MIAMI – Mark Pope knew there was a chance he’d be nervous when called up to the podium to receive his honorary U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey Thursday, so the night before his ceremony in Miami the 4-star wide receiver called up a friend.
Josh Jobe, a 4-star cornerback who is also committed to the Hurricanes, received his own honorary Army All-American jersey Wednesday in Cheshire, Conn., and Pope wanted to hear how it went.
“He said he was nervous,” Pope told DieHards, “but it was really exciting.”
Pope thought the same things when he was called to the front of the stage at Miami Southridge High School. With a packed auditorium cheering him on, Pope was nervous when his name was called, but thrilled to officially receive one of high school football’s highest honors.
— #ArmyBowl Tour (@SelectionTour) October 5, 2017
“It’s a blessing,” Pope said. “I dreamed of playing in it and it’s finally here.”
Pope is one of five Hurricane commits slated to play in the January game along with Jobe, 4-star defensive tackle Nesta Silvera, 4-star wide receiver Brian Hightower and 5-star running back Lorenzo Lingard.
Most of those prospects have reaffirmed their commitments to Miami, but Pope’s holds a special place. He’s the one local star of the bunch, a fringe 5-star prospect from Miami-Dade County, who grew up dreaming of playing for the No. 13 Hurricanes and has stated he’s “1,000-percent” firm with his pledge.
Even as other suitors bear down on him, most notably Florida, Pope takes every opportunity he can to remind people of his commitment to his hometown team. He makes his way to games in Miami Gardens, Fla., frequently, and plans to go to Coral Gables, Fla., later Thursday to see the team before it leaves for Saturday’s game against Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla.
“Most likely, I’m going to shut it down,” Pope said. “There’s nothing better than home and staying home. I got to do what I got to do and put Miami back on top.”
Statements like those make Pope the face of the Class of 2018’s stay-home movement and the perfect person for spearheading the Hurricanes’ local recruiting efforts.
It’s no secret Jobe has wavered a bit since he transferred from Miami’s Christopher Columbus High School during the summer. Alabama and Michigan are both pushing hard for the blue-chip defensive back.
Pope knows what he has to do. Turning the Hurricanes back into a perennial power will take more than one star. Pope needs all the help he can get.
“I talk about Miami. Josh is coming home, man. Josh just wants to stay in the front,” Pope said. “He knows there’s nothing better than home. I’ve got a feeling Josh will stay.”