Get Pope while you still can
by Nick Birdsong
nbirdsong@annistonstar.com
Nov 15, 2011 | 3212 views |  0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dear major college football coaches,

Anniston’s Troymaine Pope is still on the market… for now.

Contrary to a report from a recruiting outlet published on Twitter early Monday morning, the all-state running back is not committed to Mississippi State

However, the 5-foot-8, 190-pound running back was in Starkville, Miss., Saturday and did witness Mississippi State’s 24-7 loss to Alabama at Davis Wade Stadium as part of an unofficial visit.

“They want me to come down there,” he said. “They pretty much offered me a scholarship.”

Pope toured the school’s campus and met with Miss. State head coach Dan Mullen and co-defensive coordinator Geoff Collins. Pope, an Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic selection, said he was first contacted by Mississippi State four or five weeks ago and suspects he could receive a formal offer from the school as early as next week or whenever he makes an official visit.

Second-year Anniston coach Eddie Bullock said a number of schools have contacted him inquiring about the electrifying runner. The list includes Jacksonville State, UAB, Troy, Samford, South Alabama, Alabama State, Arkansas State, UT-Chattanooga, Prairie View A&M and The Citadel.

“It’s been a mixture of schools that have pretty much been on him consistently,” Bullock said.

Pope, The Star’s 2010 Class 4A-6A Calhoun County Player of the Year, eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing mark in a 25-20 win against Dora.

He rushed for 200 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner on a 48-yarder with 7:36 remaining to erase a one-point deficit.

The Bulldogs (8-4), Region 6 champions, travel to Fayette County (9-3) in the state quarterfinals Friday.

• HISTORY FOR HANDLEY: No. 2 Handley’s 21-19 victory against No. 7 T.R. Miller in the second-round of the AHSAA Class 4A state football playoffs this past Friday night was a historic win in a number of ways.

It was coach Mike Battles’ 70th win at the school, making him the all-time winningest coach in Handley history.

Battles has suffered 27 losses in seven seasons at the Tigers’ helm. He coached at Wellborn from 1979-2003 and also had a stint at Hueytown. He surpassed former Handley coach Hugh Stevenson, who led the Tigers from 1929-1940, to take over the top spot.

Friday’s win was also the Tigers’ senior class’s 45th. That’s the most of any graduating class in school history and extended their home winning-streak to 33 games.

The Tigers (12-0) take on Washington County (10-2) on the road in their quarterfinals matchup Friday.

• I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL: Few could understand on a personal level exactly what Wellborn coaches and players were going through in the days following the sudden death of former lineman Aaron “Tootie” Harris.

However, Washington County coach Chris Wilson can relate all too well.

“I was coaching at Vestavia Hills when (former baseball coach) Sammie Dunn passed away,” said Wilson, who guided the Bulldogs to a 19-14 win against the Panthers.

“And I was coaching at Lincoln when coach Keith Howard passed away. I know what that’s like. I know that it’s an emotional rollercoaster. And I knew that those kids would be fired up, playing for their teammate and their peer and the guy that they loved.”

Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.

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