Notre Dame Makes Early Run At 2022 Peach State Safety

Mason Plummer

Earlier this week, Notre Dame extended an offer to 2022 safety Jake Pope out of Buford (Ga.) Buford. Notre Dame has not offered many safeties, so it's clear the staff is high on the 6-1, 180-pound safety.

Pope holds 12 offers including Arizona State, Michigan State and Iowa, but the Notre Dame offer represents his biggest yet.

“Notre Dame is a school that I have always looked up to so that is obviously huge for me,” said Pope. “I know how prestigious it is in both academics and sports, so getting the offer was really cool.”

It seems that for Pope, the off the field characteristics of the school he attends will matter just as much, if not more, than those on the field.

“I am looking for a school with a great culture,” Pope explained. “I want to go to a place and a team that is family oriented. I want to feel close with the coaches and also have an opportunity to play early, if possible.”

Defensive analyst Nick Lezynski has proven to be a grinder on the recruiting trail during his time at Notre Dame, and this year is no different. It seems every recruit that I speak with on the defensive side of the ball recently, the first coach they mention having a great relationship with is Lezynski. That is no different here, with Pope.

“I have talked to Coach Lezynski quite a bit,” said the Peach State product. “He is a cool guy, I like him a lot. I speak with Coach [Terry] Joseph as well.”

Pope is a long and rangy safety, and Notre Dame tends to like players with those traits at both safety and rover. How his body fills out will ultimately determine Pope's future position, but that versatility makes him an attractive player.

“I play off the ball next to receivers quite a bit, so I can play anywhere on the field they would need me” said Pope. “Whatever they are thinking for me is what I am going to do.”

The Buford star plays both sides of the ball at the prep level, standing out as a pass catcher on offense. He is mainly being recruited at safety, but there are schools who see potential in the two-way star as a receiver.

“Schools like Michigan State are looking at me purely as a receiver, some are looking at me as an athlete and others like Notre Dame want me at safety,” Pope stated. “I’ll play whatever position gets me on the field early, whether it’s safety or receiver.”

Notre Dame has recruited Pope’s home state of Georgia extremely well in recent years, with big names such as Kyle Hamilton, KJ Wallace, Tommy Tremble, Derrik Allen and JD Bertrand. Pope works out with Bertrand regularly and has gotten an idea of what Notre Dame is like from him.

“JD and I talk quite a bit when we workout and man, I thought I was decently big but that dude is jacked,” said Pope of Bertrand.

The staff just recently offered Pope, but Notre Dame is already near the top of his list of schools to visit once the NCAA lifts the dead period.

“I definitely want to make Notre Dame one of the schools I visit,” Pope explained. “I need to go up there, 100 percent.”

Visits are going to be very key in Pope’s recruitment, and things could heat up with his recruitment once he makes the trip up to South Bend. The staff will be looking to take a safety or two in the 2022 class and Pope is a name to watch.

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