After visiting each school over the course of the last month, Buford, Ga., three-star safety Jake Pope announced a top five on Monday evening of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
The 6-foot-1 and 190-pound Pope is perhaps a bit underrated – given his final list of options – as he’s considered just the 27th-best safety and No. 384 prospect overall. He hails from the same high school as junior center Harry Miller, which he led to the state championship by recording 63 tackles and four interceptions last season.
“(He’s a) very smart player,” Buford head coach Bryant Appling told Irish Breakdown. “On top of his athleticism, what makes him special is being able to do multiple things and do it at an early age. He’s in a very smart class and they’re all built the same way. They kind of drive each other and push each other in that aspect. It’s a very driven group and Jake is one of the leaders.
“I know he’s working on the things he can do off the field for us. Flexibility, core strength, he’s very in tune with his body. He’s making sure he can play a whole season here and continue to play a long time. He does a great job of wanting to learn the whole defense, the whole offense. He wants to know everything. He wants to know every situation so that when it pops up, he’s not surprised.”
Pope landed an offer from the Buckeyes during a virtual visit with head coach Ryan Day, defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs and secondary coach Matt Barnes in February and took his official visit with the program over the weekend of June 18-20. That was sandwiched between an unofficial visit with the Bulldogs on June 1 and official visits with the Tar Heels on June 4-6, Fighting Irish on June 11-13 and Crimson Tide on June 25-27.
Ohio State already holds one commitment at safety in Seffner (Fla.) Armwood three-star Kye Stokes but is looking to add two more players at the position this cycle. Las Vegas Bishop Gorman four-star Zion Branch and Altoona (Iowa) Southeast Polk four-star Xavier Nwankpa are at the top of the list – and the Buckeyes presumably lead for both – which would seemingly leave Pope on the outside looking in.
If that's the case, Notre Dame would likely be the biggest beneficiary.
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