Every day until fall camp begins for Ohio State, we will profile a different Buckeye football player. Today that player is senior linebacker K’Vaughan Pope. Yesterday it was defensive end Cormontae Hamilton. You can find all of the daily Scoop Profiles right here.
No. 36 | Linebacker | 6-1 225 | Senior | Dinwiddie High School | Dinwiddie, Virginia
How’d He Get Here
One of K’Vaughan Pope’s first major offers came from Florida in June of 2016. That same day he said the Gators were his leader. Of course, being a leader in June before a prospect’s junior year doesn’t always work out for that school. Ohio State offered in November of 2016. Less than a week later, the Dinwiddie, Virginia prospect took an unofficial visit to check out his lead school. Alabama and Notre Dame offered in February. Pope visited Ohio State unofficially in April of 2017 and committed in August. He was ranked the No. 9 inside linebacker in the 2018 recruiting class and the No. 217 player overall.
K’Vaughan Pope has been in the same boat as classmate linebackers Dallas Gant and Teradja Mitchell. They have been behind established starters each of their first three years as Buckeyes. Those starters are now gone, which gives everyone more opportunity to get onto the field. Pope was a backup Will linebacker his first two years before moving to Sam last year. He played in all but one game last year, but only saw 17 total snaps on defense. This year, there may not be much of a Sam linebacker on defense, which is one reason why Pope moved inside this spring. The linebacker room is a bit crowded, but needs players like Pope to step up and be the veteran he is.
What to Like
The Buckeyes are recruiting athletic linebackers more and more, but they’ve also got a handful already on the roster. K’Vaughan Pope was an All-State linebacker and tight end as a junior in high school. He caught 33 passes for 630 yards and six touchdowns, while also returning a kick or two for a score and tallying 31 tackles for loss. As a senior, he rushed for 1,043 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is the very definition of athletic linebacker. He has played in 30 of 36 career games, so even though he’s never started, he’s not exactly inexperienced. And he can play wherever he is needed. There is plenty to like here, he just hasn’t had much opportunity to show it.
What’s the Ceiling This Year?
K’Vaughan Pope has had some moments in his Buckeye career, like a pair of interceptions as a sophomore. He showed an ability to find the football in limited opportunities. His ceiling has him finding the ball a lot more this year. Pope could be an interesting nickel package linebacker, if not a full-time starter. Some may call him a bit undersized at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, but it’s not like he’s a timid run-stopper. There are quite a few linebackers vying for two starting spots, but there are opportunities available here for more than just the starters. Pope has a unique skill set and his ceiling puts him on the field to show it.
Even though he is a senior, K’Vaughan Pope does have another year of eligibility if he wants it. Does he spend this year sharing a job that could be his exclusively in 2022? When he committed to Ohio State, he received comparisons to former Buckeye linebacker Jerome Baker. They have a very similar skill set, but Baker saw the field as a true sophomore when a starter went down. Pope has waited his turn, but may want even more of it next year. More and more, the game is turning to linebackers like Pope. If he reaches his ceiling, and doubles down by returning in 2022, it will be interesting to see what kind of attention he merits. It could be considerable.