Jake Pope has more than 30 offers but in recent days the three-star safety from Buford, Ga., trimmed his list all the way down to eight.
Alabama, Notre Dame, Auburn, North Carolina, Michigan, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma made the list for Pope, who would like to visit all eight of his finalists before making a decision.
There is also some jockeying going on here behind the scenes as many of the top teams on his list also have other high-profiles targets at defensive back and as those dominoes fall then Pope could emerge even higher on some recruiting boards.
In today’s Ranking The Contenders, we take a closer look at the schools on Pope’s list and put some of the top ones in order as he works toward a commitment.
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1. NORTH CAROLINA
If some programs are waiting to get even more serious about Pope, North Carolina is not one of them as the Tar Heels coaches targeted him early on in recruiting and have shown him love ever since. Assistant coach Jay Bateman has been leading the recruitment here and the Tar Heels are definitely one of the teams higher on Pope’s list.
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2. NOTRE DAME
Brian Kelly has talked with Pope and that’s usually a major sign that Notre Dame is serious about someone so that will be something to watch. The Buford, Ga., standout is one of the top safeties on the Irish board but Xavier Nwankpa is definitely tops on that list – and he could be No. 1 elsewhere as well since he’s so talented. If Notre Dame gets an official visit from Pope then it’s definitely a program to watch even more.
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The first thing to really accept about Pope’s recruitment is that some elite programs have a whole host of prospects on the board and Pope is high on some and higher on others. But until the three-star gets out on visits and other safeties get taken off the board, Pope’s recruitment could still go a few ways.
Alabama is in a very good position with Pope and when that’s the case the Crimson Tide usually fares very well. Georgia also likes the in-state prospect a lot but the word is that some other top safety targets could be a touch higher on the list right now.
Ohio State is another program to watch. The Buckeyes do a tremendous job recruiting the entire country, engage with top prospects and Pope is feeling the love. There’s no doubt Nwankpa is a top priority for the Buckeyes in the 2022 recruiting class but so is Pope and if that continues then Ohio State has a real shot here.
The dark horses? Auburn has a fighting chance but beating out both Alabama and Georgia for Pope looks hard. Michigan and Oklahoma feel like long shots here. Pope could visit either program and that could change but the Wolverines and Sooners are definitely toward the back end of this list.