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3-star Buford ATH Jake Pope

Jake Pope: Talented in-state ATH hits the pause button on previous recruiting timeline

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry is about the latest with in-state ATH Jake Pope of Buford High School.

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Alabama. Georgia. North Carolina. Notre Dame. Ohio State.

That’s a robust final five for a 3-star ATH out of Buford High School. In reality, that final group shows how highly the big boys of college football feel about the talented all-around dynamo from the defending Georgia 6A state champions.

Pope, who ranks as the nation’s No. 26 safety and No. 369 overall recruit for 2022 on the 247Sports Composite, had the thought he’d make a silent summer commitment in mid-July and announce it sometime this month.

Yeah, that’s no longer the case. Pope’s decision is so tight at this time that he’s backed off a preseason timeline altogether.

“All my top five teams really really want me to come there,” Pope said. “They want me to come to see games. Hang out with the players more. Honestly, I have such good relationships with all those coaches that it is just hard right now.”

“So I was thinking that I am going to get up and go see some games. Get around the atmosphere. See the stadiums in person. See what the gamedays are like for each of those teams and maybe that will help me out a little bit more.”

He’s learned through this process to just slow down and take his time. The talented centerfielder for the Buford baseball team is looking to treat this like a deep drive hit into the group. He needs to get on his horse, cover some ground and then he’ll eventually be able to get under this decision.

“It is a huge decision for any athlete,” he said. “You want to make the best possible decision whether that is relationships or whether you feel at home there. It all ties into one thing. You don’t want to be unhappy at a place. If you are unhappy, you are not going to be able to perform. I just want to make sure I am happy where I am at, that I like the people and I have formed good relationships with the coaches there as well so then it can be the place to go play and win.”

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Buford ATH Jake Pope has now slowed down the pace of his previous recruiting timeline.
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

Jake Pope: How much mutual love is there with UGA?

How much does Georgia love Jake Pope? How much does Pope love UGA?

The Clemson legacy did not give UGA an official visit. Alabama, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Ohio State all got one.

And yet Pope has been up to check out UGA at least three times this summer. That included another impactful visit on the final day of July before the shroud of another NCAA dead period came down again.

“Each time I go up there I sit down with the coaches and I talk about some things,” Pope said. “Last time I was up there I sat down with coach [Will] Muschamp and he just showed me how they practice, how they rotate, how they keep track of their reps so they know who’s ready and who’s not ready. Just stuff like that. It was nice to see in-depth stuff like that to show me how prepared I would be in that program.”

“Just it being 45 minutes away, it feels like home. I know a lot of people there and it is just a great school.”

Georgia has a very comprehensive plan for Pope. That factor alone has allowed the Bulldogs to remain steadfast in his process.

“It is defense,” Pope said. “They can see me playing a couple of different safety spots. Whether that is post safety, star or something like that. It is good to have options to play in their defense as well. They explained all of that stuff really well to me.”

What does he like best about the opportunity at Georgia?

“Just the fact that they have always kept up with me,” Pope said. “They’ve always wanted me to come up and visit. Coach Kirby [Smart] texts me frequently. Which it is always good to hear from the head coach a lot of times. I love the players there. I know a lot of players there. A lot of them are from Georgia. I’ve played with a lot of them through youth ball. Like Dylan Fairchild and a bunch of those guys.”

New Georgia commitment Griffin Scroggs also expressed a desire to bring Pope into the class this week. He used to play at Buford before transferring to Grayson.

Pope said that defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae and co-defensive coordinators Dan Lanning and Glenn Schumann are his primary recruiters on the Georgia staff.

“They just think I am a very versatile player and an athlete,” Pope said. “They’ve also brought up how I play baseball in center field so they know I can track a ball down and cover a lot of ground in center field.”

He is holding on to one official visit.

“I am,” Pope said. “If the time comes and I want to take it, I will. If not, no big deal. I am satisfied with my four officials that I took but I actually talked to coach Schumann about me taking an official visit to Georgia if he and I can figure out a time. I don’t know with it being season time now so I don’t know how hard it will be for me to get scheduled something like that.”

Pope stated that his last UGA visit was one of the better ones that he has had.

“It was the cookout,” Pope said. “It was relaxed. I got to sit down and hang with the players. Talk with them. Talked with the coaches and then I sat down with coach Muschamp and then talked football just a little bit. It was nice to be able to be laid-back with all of them and form even better relationships.”

He was charted at UGA at a little over six feet and about 190 pounds. Check out his junior highlight film below.

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Buford wide receiver Jake Pope (14) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the 6A state semifinals against Valdosta in Buford. Buford topped Valdosta 45-26 and went on to finish 13-1 after beating Lee County in the state title game on Dec. 29, 2020 at Georgia State’s Center Parc Stadium.
Daniel Varnado/Special to the AJC, AJC Freelancer

What are the next steps for Jake Pope?

Pope simply needs more data before he makes his decision.

“Honestly just whenever I can see all of these teams at a few more games,” he said. “Definitely before signing day. I’m just kind of taking my time. There are a lot of coaches here who have said they will wait until signing day for me.”

He said that every school in his top five has basically said that to him.

“I’m still texting with each one of my five schools,” he said. “I’m planning on getting up to a game with each of them. It just depends on distance. Notre Dame is a little farther. Ohio is a little farther and harder to get up there. I honestly have such a good relationship with all of them and that’s why I am torn. It is hard.”

Pope said it does feel like Alabama, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Georgia are recruiting him the hardest right now.

“I literally think they are all right there and like I was telling you I think visiting these games is going to determine who takes it out of all five of them,” Pope said. “It is just a hard decision.”

Pope, who carries a 3.9 GPA in the classroom, is a pretty serious-minded individual.

“As good of a player he is and as good in the classroom he is, he is also that humble,” Buford High coach Bryant Appling said. “He never really causes any ripples anyway. He causes his ripples on the field by making plays and being a great leader.”

Appling called him “sneaky good” in the biggest moments.

“[Former Buford coach Jess Simpson] uses to say a lot that Jake is sudden,” Appling said. “People think they have him when he’s at defensive back. Or when he’s at receiver, they think they can cover him on a route but his quickness and speed after the cut is different.”

“Everybody looks at him and thinks ‘oh, he’s not that fast’ or ‘oh, he’s not that big’ but it might not show up real well on tape all the time but when you get him on the field up close in person then you realize how athletic he really is.”

Appling said that Pope is an “easy 4.4 guy” in the 40. He wasn’t positive, but he estimated Pope was a 6.5 in the 60 meters. That’s a scouting staple for baseball players and Pope does spend a lot of football off-season time honing his skills for that game, too.

Is he a safety? Star? Cornerback? Receiver? Appling says he gets that question a lot from college coaches and he defers to their expertise in that matter.

“I know the kid can play receiver for anybody’s team in the nation and I know he can play ‘DB’ for anybody’s team in the nation,” Appling said. “The sky is the limit for him. The boy hasn’t even really fully filled out yet for his body. I think he’s going to grow some more.”

3-star Buford ATH Jake Pope plays offense, defense and special teams for the defending GHSA Class 6A state champion Buford Wolves.
Jeff Sentell, Dawgnation

SENTELL’S INTEL

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