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Transcript: Austin Pope Joins RTI Radio

RTI-LogoVol commitment and local (CAK) standout tight end/athlete Austin Pope joined RTI Radio on Wednesday afternoon to discuss his recruitment with hosts Daniel Lewis and Houston Kress.

Be sure to listen to RTI Radio every weekday from 4-6 pm ET on 1180 AM in the Knoxville area or anywhere on the Rocky Top Insider App or streaming on Full podcasts of the show are also available shortly after their conclusion on the App or the site.

On the recruiting process, why he chose the Vols and the letter he wrote to himself as a freshman in HS:

“It was very cool just being part of this whole process. Nebraska was actually the first team to offer a few months ago, and as soon as that happened, it got things rolling a little bit – other schools started showing a little bit more interest in me, I went to a few camps and got some big-time SEC offers. Then Tennessee came along, I went to their camp and worked with Coach Elder, Coach Jones, Mike DeBord, the offensive coordinator, and I just fell in love with the place. I didn’t really think very much about writing that letter at the time until my grandmother brought it back up, and said ‘hey, you wrote this letter,’ and I read it word-for-word, and it’s surreal that it’s basically what I predicted as a freshman.”

Did he know he would commit to Tennessee as soon as he got the offer?

“I did not. I went into every camp and every visit with an open mind. I didn’t really think I was going to commit this early, honestly. But after I left UT’s camp and worked with the coaches, and being over there in the stadium and the facilities, I just fell in love.”

What was UT’s pitch that sold him?

“Not so much selling me on stuff, but just the people they are. Everywhere I went, it wasn’t so much picking something I didn’t like, but I could pick out something that UT had that they didn’t. Everybody’s facility was awesome, but at the same time, I just felt at home at Tennessee with Coach Jones, Coach DeBord and Coach Elder, I’ve been up there before hanging out with those guys. It’s just amazing. I can’t even describe the feeling – how right that it feels right now. ”

What is his role at CAK and what will he play at UT?

“In high school, I pretty much do whatever coach tells me to. I play slot wide receiver – this year I’m going to be spread backside, probably a 3 by 1 or 2 by 2, playing outside receiver so I can run more deep routes and go up and get the ball. And then I play safety and outside linebacker, and actually this year, we’re going to put in on third and long I’m going to play defensive end and rush the quarterback, so that’s going to be neat. And we’re going to have a blast my senior year. At UT they want me to play tight end and slot wide receiver just because of the skill set I have.”

On playing in CAK’s high-flying offense:

“Coach Bradley’s offense definitely helped me a lot. He taught me a lot of my routes, my sticks, my cuts, and reading defenses while I’m out there. Just being in the film room a lot, and him teaching me a lot, it’s definitely helped me a lot and it’ll help me a lot at the next level.”

Does it help knowing previous CAK players Josh Smith and Brett Kendrick are at UT?

“It’s definitely a cool thing. I don’t know Josh that well. But I also know Todd Kelly Jr., I’ve known him since I was in 8th grade, so I know him and Brett pretty well. Brett usually comes back to high school and we hang out during lunch, and all that’s cool stuff. It’s definitely cool to be out there with those guys, and to know that they were in my schools and they made it to the next level also.”

On if he’ll help peer recruit:

“I haven’t worked on anybody really yet. But I got put in a group message with the quarterback coming in next year with the quarterback – Jarrett (Guarantano) – and then there’s a couple more guys in that group. I actually got put in that today and we’ve been talking a little bit, so that’s definitely a cool thing to reach out to those guys and build those relationships for future teammates.”

Is Jarrett Guarantano kind of the leader of the peer recruiting?

“Oh yeah, it definitely seems like that.”

On if he plans to return to campus often in the next year:

“Oh yeah, definitely. I’m going to try to get my hands on the playbook and try to learn it early, just spend some time with coaches and my future teammates and help recruit a bit. But I’m looking forward to that and especially during the football season, just being with those guys and having a great time.”

On what he wants to accomplish before getting to UT:

“One of my personal goals is to gain a little more weight. I’m 6-4 and a half, 220 right now, so I plan to be at 235 or 240 by the time I’m coming in next summer to get my body in shape and ready to play at that SEC level early. I’ve been told by the coaches that they don’t plan on redshirting me, so hopefully I get a good shot at playing my freshman year, get some playing time, get out on the field with (Ethan) Wolf, and working with all those guys. But one of my goals is getting a lot bigger.”

How important is it to be part of the group that brings Tennessee back?

“Oh yeah, definitely. They’re definitely on their way. I mean, went to a bowl game, had a winning season this past year. Great group of guys up there with a lot of talent. Me and the rest of the class of 2016 are just looking forward to upping that a little more and hopefully in ’16 or ’17 we’ll be going to that national championship, I hope. We’ll see.”

On if he’s comfortable with Tennessee’s tight end depth chart:

“Oh yeah. Me and my mom actually go through the roster – that was part of the recruiting process – going through the roster of each team that I could see myself playing at, and seeing how old guys were and their playing time last year and how that’ll be this year and affect my playing time when I get there. I’m definitely competitive. So, I think with my skill set and going up there and working hard this whole next year before I get there. I think I’ll have a very good shot at competing for a starting position hopefully.”



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