[This is the 17th in a series where The-Ozone looks back on each member of the 2018 signing class and the impact they had this past season, as well as the impact they could have this coming season.]
K’Vaughan Pope came to Ohio State from Dinwiddie County High School in Dinwiddie, Virginia. He was ranked the No. 9 inside linebacker in the 2018 class and the No. 217 player in the nation. Pope signed with the Buckeyes over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Florida State, Notre Dame, Florida, and a bunch of others.
K’Vaughan Pope was one of three true freshman linebackers fighting for a spot in Ohio State’s defense last season. Like the others, Pope found most of his playing time on special teams.
Pope played in 11 games, notching his only tackle of the season on a kickoff against Maryland. On the same tackle, he dragged down returner Javon Leake six yards out of bounds, garnering a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
Pope was behind Malik Harrison and Keandre Jones on the depth chart, which made playing time on defense almost impossible to come by. He was able to secure a starting spot on some special teams units, however.
So Now What
Expected to play Will linebacker this season, K’Vaughan Pope will likely be behind senior Malik Harrison on the depth chart. The transfer of Keandre Jones has made things a bit easier, however.
Harrison tied for the team lead with 81 tackles last season. Regardless of what kind of defense Jeff Hafley and Greg Mattison implement, Harrison is expected to be one of the linebackers in the starting lineup.
Pope is an athletic linebacker whose versatility could come into play. With Ohio State’s large number of linebackers, there could be roles for several players in addition to the starters.
It isn’t yet known what kind of alignment the Buckeyes will run, though Mattison has implied there would be two inside linebackers — a Mike and a Will — and an outside linebacker. Will that outside backer be a hybrid or could it be somebody like Pope who can run and may still be growing into a true inside linebacker?
If there is a hybrid linebacker employed, then that is going to make playing time even more difficult to come by for the Buckeyes’ true linebackers. There will be a large number of players vying for time at just two spots.
However, if the Ohio State defense doesn’t have somebody who fits the mold for that hybrid spot, perhaps K’Vaughan Pope would be a happy medium. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Pope is no doubt heavier than that, but he showed in high school on both defense and offense that he can cover a large amount of ground in a short amount of time.