Buckeye fans are likely very familiar with the name K’Vaughan Pope at this point. The Dinwiddie, Virginia linebacker has been on Ohio State’s radar for months, and anyone who follows recruiting at the most basic level has heard the rumblings of a possible commitment since April. Due to a number of obstacles, mainly the space (or lack thereof) in Ohio State’s 2018 class, Pope, despite a desire to commit to Ohio State back in July, had to wait, and was encouraged to look elsewhere.
However, after sitting down and looking at the numbers, as well as at Pope’s tape, Ohio State, and more importantly Urban Meyer, was sold on the LB, and he was given the green light to commit to the team he’s wanted to be a part of since visiting on April 1st. Fresh off of a visit to Georgia on July 20th, Pope announced that he’d be committing at his high school on August 4th.
Despite that announcement’s timing with the Georgia visit, there was never really any doubt about where he’d be landing, the only question was if OSU would have room for him. Just moments ago, that question was answered with a resounding “yes”, as K’Vaughan Pope announced his official commitment to Ohio State over Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, and Florida, among others at his high school. Pope is the first in what may be a “Boom”-heavy August. Here’s what he brings to the team and the 2018 class.
ON THE FIELD
Pope’s ability on the field is undeniable. He’s got prototypical linebacker size, albeit with a little more weight to add, and a massive ceiling because of his athleticism. He doesn’t have fantastic speed, and will certainly end up as an inside linebacker at Ohio State because of his lack of elite top-end speed, but he’s absurdly strong, and plays with more power than just about any other linebacker in the country.
He plays on both sides of the ball for his high school team, and essentially just serves as a tank on offense, which he carries over to his defensive style as well. He lines up as a running back, tight end, wide receiver, pretty much anywhere you can imagine, and just destroys defenses with his strength and power.
That hard-hitting, physically imposing style transitions extremely well to the defense, as he frequently blows up the run with his hitting ability, while his natural athleticism lets him run with backs and tight ends in coverage. He’s never going to a quarterback-seeking missile like Darron Lee was, but he’s the linebacker equivalent of a sledgehammer in run coverage, and his tape reminds me a lot of former Buckeye and current Dolphin Raekwon McMillan.
IN THE CLASS
Pope is the 17th recruit in Ohio State’s 2018 recruiting class, and the third (or possibly fourth depending on where Andrew Chatfield ends up) linebacker, along with Dallas Gant and fellow Virginian Teradja Mitchell. Mitchell and Pope are relatively similar players, but Mitchell is a bit bigger, while Pope has a higher athletic peak. They’ll complement each other very well.
He’s the second recruit from Virginia, along with the aforementioned Pope, and serves as a sign of change, as Virginia continues to grow as a pipeline for Ohio State under Urban Meyer. Ohio State is looking at two Virginia recruits in 2019, running back Devyn Ford and defensive end Brandon Smith, so don’t expect that pipeline to end any time soon.
When it comes to prospective linebacker targets, Pope’s commitment doesn’t really have an impact. Ohio State is really only looking at two other linebackers in this class, Palaie Gaoteote and Solomon Tuliaupupu, neither of whom would be turned away if they want into the class.
As of right now, if pressed to make a prediction, I’d say both will likely end up at USC, but no one should have any worries about Ohio State not taking either of them because of Pope. They’re good enough to merit finding the space in a quickly filling class.
Pope’s commitment extends Ohio State’s lead in the 247sports team rankings, from roughly 12 points to nearly 20. Ohio State is still well on pace to land the best recruiting class of all time, upending a record set by Urban Meyer at Florida in 2010.