Jake Pope never got the chance to crack the starting lineup as a prized four-star signing for the Alabama Crimson Tide 2022 class. The safety out of Buford, Georgia had to watch and learn as fellow Georgia native Brian Branch and another impact safety Jordan Battle turned into day two draft picks for the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively.
Pope, however, showed early flashes of his hard-hitting potential during the 2023 “A-Day” for Alabama in its spring game — particularly this smack of Jermaine Burton. But nearly two months after his stirring shoulder-first collision, Pope fired off another message ahead of the 2023 season that can surely energize Tide fans:
“I’ll gain the respect soon enough…trust!” Pope said on Friday, July 14 via his Twitter page.
Pope Projects to Become Day 3 Draft Pick, Recruiting Analyst Wrote
When Alabama won the recruiting race to nab the 6-foot-1, 192-pound safety, the Tide managed to beat out a total of 35 other colleges vying to pilfer Pope on the trail.
Among the schools that were vying for him including the home state national power Georgia. Fellow Southeastern Conference representatives Florida, Arkansas, arch rival Auburn and even Ohio State of the Big 10 offered Pope. But Pope told Hank South of 247Sports back on August 16, 2021 that the way ‘Bama was recruiting him was what sold him on the Tide.
“Honestly just the way they develop players and the way Coach (Charles) Kelly and Coach (Nick) Saban recruited me,” Pope told 247Sports. “It was honestly like no other. When they want you to be a top guy in their program, you can’t really say no to that. It’s just a great opportunity for me.”
He added: “There’s no better place to be than Alabama. With all the things going on in the SEC right now and how the OV (official visit) went at Alabama, it just felt like a great choice.”
Following his commitment to Alabama, 247Sports national recruiting analyst Cooper Petagna projected that Pope would eventually develop into as high as a fourth round draft selection in his evaluation:
“A three phase player, Pope shows the ability to project to the receiver and or safety position at the next level. Possesses growth potential to add additional weight to his frame. Displays good athleticism in all three phases. Exhibits good short area burst and explosiveness on both sides of the ball while possessing outstanding play speed. Plays with very little wasted motion, clean in and out of breaks. Demonstrates excellent instincts in all three phases. Flashes natural ball skills on both sides of the ball. Shows some ability as a playmaker in the return game and after the catch. Will have an immediate impact on special teams. Versatile athlete that wins with instincts. Plays bigger than he is.”
Pope is now walking into a great chance of taking over one of the now bequeathed safety spots on the Tide defense.
‘He’s Going to be a Great Player’
Pope will be a redshirt freshman pursuing a starting spot for the Tide defense this fall. But he’s won the praise of one Tide veteran of the defense.
Malachi Moore is one of the few experienced upperclassmen left in the safety room at Tuscaloosa. Moore finished with 31 total tackles and broke up five passes. He also added 1.5 sacks and has started since 2020.
But even he’s another believing Pope is due for a breakout season by sharing this on April 22 to Rivals’ Tide Illustrated following the spring game:
“Physical, physical player. He’s going to fly around. He’s going to get to the ball…He’s going to knock the ball off guys. He’s going to be a great player,” Moore said to Rivals’ Tony Tsoukalas.