When it was announced in May that Tennessee 4-star tight end commit Devante Brooks had torn his same ACL for the second time in 2 years, Tennessee Volunteers head football coach Butch Jones and his staff began to look for another tight end to add to their 2016 class in case Brooks' injury prevented him from living up to his potential. On Monday evening, the Vols got the commitment they were looking for.
Austin Pope, a 3-star tight end and Knoxville native, committed to the Vols Monday night, giving Tennessee their 11th known commitment in the 2016 class. Pope is rated as the 16th best prospect in the state of Tennessee according to 247Sports, and he plays at Christian Academy of Knoxville.
As a junior, Pope caught 68 passes for 809 yards and 7 touchdowns (according to Max Preps). Pope even scored 3 rushing touchdowns in goal line sets his junior season.
At 6-foot-4, 217 pounds, Pope has a large frame that will be able to support more weight once he is able to access a collegiate weight room. Pope may only be rated as a 3-star, but his offer list speaks to his potential. The Vols were among over a dozen schools to have offered Pope so far, including Mississippi State, Nebraska, Missouri, and Arkansas.
Pope is just the latest in a rash of commitments for the Vols in less than two weeks. Junior college wide receiver Jeff George announced his commitment to Tennessee on June 6th, and 2017 defensive end Jordon Riley committed to the Vols the day before Pope announced his commitment. The Vols may look to add another tight end as insurance, but for now Pope and Brooks headline that unit in the 2016 class.