The Clemson football program has frequently dipped into the Atlanta area to nab top defensive back talent over the years, and the Tigers once again have eyes on some DBs from the area in the class of 2022.
One on the radar is Buford High School safety Jake Pope, a Clemson legacy recruit who has steadily collected scholarship offers from major programs throughout this year.
Pope (6-1, 190) is the son of former Tigers strong safety Brad Pope, who graduated from Clemson in 1996 and played alongside eventual Pro Football Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins in Clemson’s secondary.
The younger Pope has worked out at the Dabo Swinney Camp a couple of times and been scouted by defensive coordinator Brent Venables and safeties coach Mickey Conn.
“Him and Coach Venables have been up to Buford a couple times to see me a little bit and some of our other players,” Pope told The Clemson Insider. “But I know Coach Conn very well and have a good relationship with him.”
Conn, of course, spent 16 seasons as head coach at Grayson (Ga.) High School before being hired by Clemson in 2016.
“I actually know Coach Conn because my freshman year, he came to a spring game and saw me, and then that following summer I came up to camp and talked with him for a while just about what type of player he thought I was and how they were going to recruit me from there on,” Pope said. “So, I’ve gotten to know him over these past couple years because he’s come to see me at Buford.”
Pope was recently in contact with Conn, who expressed his interest in Pope’s all-around skill set as a safety.
“I actually got off a call with him not too long ago, maybe a month ago,” Pope said, “and he was talking about how my ball skills are great, I’m fast to the ball, good hands, smart, got the size and stuff like that.”
Pope received his first Division I offer from Florida International last November before picking up his first Power Five offers from Southern Cal, Arizona State and Colorado in January. Since then, offers from North Carolina, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Michigan State, Nebraska, Indiana and Iowa have trickled in.
Pope made personal visits to UNC and South Carolina with his father in July to look around the respective campuses, but because of the NCAA dead period that was imposed in March due to the pandemic, Pope hasn’t had a chance to make many actual recruiting visits. So, he wants to check out some of the schools that have offered him before he advances his recruitment in the future.
“Right now, since we can’t really visit or do much with that, I’m kind of taking things slow,” he said. “I’m thinking about some schools a little bit, but otherwise I haven’t really gotten to see much so I haven’t really narrowed anything down.”
Pope doesn’t know when he will make his college decision, but knows what he is looking for in a school as he goes through the process.
“One, that it’s family oriented, has a good culture, one that wins and one where coaches want me to play early and just want me to play in general,” he said.
An offer from Clemson, Pope says, would be a dream come true if he were to get that opportunity and have the chance to follow in his dad’s footsteps as a Tiger.
“That would be great,” he said. “My dad played there, so I’ve always been around Clemson. I’ve been going to games since I was literally like four and five. So, that’d be a dream offer. It would definitely be in the mix for sure when my recruitment is all said and done.”
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