Towering over his teammates and virtually every opponent he faces, Dustin Pope has long been accustomed to being big. But over the last two seasons, as his 6’6″ frame filled out to a staggering 315 lbs, Pope began to catch some big attention from college recruiters. Offensive Coordinator for the Chattooga Indians, David Gann, knows that kids with the rare size possessed by Pope are hard to come by. Finding such an athlete who is devoted to the game, self motivated, and committed to improving is a rare feat indeed. Gann remarked, “Dustin has realized over the past 12 months what it takes to play college football and be one of the Elites in the State. He shows up everyday with the mindset that he wants to play Division 1 Football.” Gann has coached high school football players for almost two decades and he knows a special player when he sees one. “Dustin is the type of young man that Coaches love to coach. Not just due to his size and ability…..but more so because of his heart, his excellent work ethic, and his Outstanding Character.”
Pope has learned that being the biggest man on campus isn’t a golden ticket to a Division 1 team. He has worked tirelessly to increase his strength, speed and, most importantly, his academics. Gann spoke of Pope’s development, “he continues to make great improvements in the weight room by being committed to pushing his self. He runs and works on his footwork as well as his O-Line technique daily; many times, on his own. He has traveled all over the South to meet Coaches in person and attend their Summer camps.” This personal development, supported by his dedicated parents, has seen Pope increase his bench press to 405 lbs, his squat to 550 lbs, and his 40-yard dash time is a hair’s breath from the sub five second range. While Pope continues to put in the work in the weight room, he wrapped up his junior year with a 3.7 GPA and is scheduled to take both the SAT and the ACT within the next few months.
Pope has been a committed “Camp Warrior” during the off-season. Logging hundreds of miles on the road, Pope and his parents have zig-zagged across the southeast, visiting some of the best campuses in football to meet with coaches, work out at camps, and do his best to make an impression on recruiters. The work has paid off. Sporting three offers already, Pope has spent time at the University of Florida, University of Georgia, and Georgia Tech where coaches were surprised at the huge specimen who has, so far, flown under the SEC radar. Coaches from six different SEC schools, and over 30 other universities, have indicated that they will be closely watching Pope’s senior season.
With impressive junior season numbers, Pope needs a solid opening to his senior campaign to prove his worth in the SEC market. Closing out the 2016 season, Pope graded out on the Offensive Line at 88%, while allowing no sacks in 13 starts and dominating the line of scrimmage with 124 pancake blocks. Working hard to improve his strength, footwork and technique, Pope and Coach Gann are confident that those numbers will only improve next year.