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Getting to know Tennessee's class of 2007: No. 21, OL Cody Pope

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Presenting No. 21 in Tennessee’s class of 2007, Cody Pope.


This guy:

Cody Pope, Take II

Pope was actually a member of the 2006 class and even practiced with the team last August, but the NCAA Clearinghouse questioned his standardized test score and declared him academically ineligible. I couldn’t locate an article specifying exactly what the problem was, but I’m guessing that the vast improvement on his SAT score from a 1090 to a 1460 drew him a red flag.

Whatever the case, the matter was cleared up, and Pope signed again this year and enrolled mid-term to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, he missed spring practice after having surgery on the foot he injured during offseason workouts.

The closest I’ve been to Hollywood is . . . Dollywood

Out of the first 11 new faces of 2007, seven are from Tennessee, and two more are from Virginia. I believe I’ve read somewhere that coach Fulmer likes to look locally first and then, if need be, nationally. Well, apparently that road runs both ways. Offensive lineman Cody Pope, from waaaaay out there in Californ-I-A, was pretty much limiting his list of potentials to schools out west. Colorado was the first school to offer him a scholarship and by mid-September, 2005, he had a handful of offers, mostly from West Coast schools: Washington, San Diego State, Fresno State, Washington State, Colorado State, and . . . UTEP.

In fact, Pope was practically shocked when Tennessee came calling on December 12, 2005 after Pope posted a qualifying SAT score in December.

When they first started recruiting me, I was really surprised, I didn't know how they even found me, or that they recruited out here. They're a big time football school though, so I was interested immediately. . . . I've never been to the South at all. The furthest I've ever been from San Diego was when I visited Utah. I'm looking forward to it, to seeing what it's like. I might love it.

And he did, in fact, love it. Pope visited Tennessee on January 13, 2006, and on January 18 (or 17), he broke his soft verbal to Washington and committed to living the next four years of his life in a (relatively) small Southern town he had visited only once.

Tennessee really impressed me with the family aspect that they have around the team, and they just have an incredible tradition there. The SEC is the best competition in the country, and that stadium is incredible. I was sort of blown away by thinking about playing in front of 107,000 people week in and week out. . . . Plus, at Tennessee, they have players from all over the country. I thought it was great how they kind of bring all these guys together from everywhere, and they really bond into a family.

Pope spurned 15 offers from other schools, including Utah, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Colorado State, Idaho, Idaho State, Fresno State, and San Diego State. He also received some interest from Notre Dame and Oklahoma.

And then there’s the matter of Southern Cal. Scout reports that just before Signing Day in 2006, USC made a 12th-hour push for Pope. In keeping with his namesake’s party line, Pope just said no to the Trojans and honored his commitment to a lifetime of orange-hued monogamy. Had either his Scout or Rivals profiles reflected this offer from Southern Cal, Pope would have had seven Rocky Top Talk Jars instead of five and would have been No. 12 in the class instead of No. 21.

Numbers and stuff

It appears that Pope played strictly on defense as a junior and that he compiled 40 tackles and seven sacks on his way to earning all-league honors. During his senior year, he played both offense and defense. On offense, he had over 75 pancake blocks, and on defense, he had 78 tackles, nine sacks, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. His team went 8-3 and made it to the playoffs, and Pope was named first-team All-City and All-League by the San Diego Union Tribune.

Rivals (currently) rates Pope the 47th best offensive tackle in the country and awards him three-stars. According to Scout, he’s a four-star guy and the 44th best offensive lineman in the nation. ESPN has him as the 61st best offensive guard nationally.

The literature on Pope describes him as a hard-working, natural offensive lineman with unlimited potential, great feet, and terrific quickness. Most importantly to Vol fans is that he is a run-blocking o-lineman with a nasty streak, as evidenced by his basketball philosophy:

My basketball coach said if he had the body I have, no one would want to come through the lane. That’s what I have in my head. Fouling out is something I take pride in doing. I average more fouls than points. If I commit a foul, I don’t like those little holding fouls. It’s more like a brawl.

On helping early

Because Pope practiced with the team a bit last fall and enrolled mid-term, he may actually see some early playing time this year despite the fact that the intellectual demands of the offensive line usually preclude true freshmen from contributing early. Still, UT’s recruitment of Pope may signal a return to the old-school running game.

Rocky Top Talk Mnemonic

Just like his namesake
This Pope said no to Trojans
Committed to Vols

Welcome to Tennessee, Cody Pope!

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