Tucker Pope making big strides in Tennessee


Chad Voytik is from Cleveland, Tennessee, and he is the starting quarterback at the University of Pittsburgh.
Not too far down the road, college football coaches are likely to be returning to Cleveland to recruit another standout QB.
Tucker Pope is still developing his game as a seventh grader at Lake Forest Middle School in Cleveland, but he is already making a big impression.
In the Bruins’ first four games – all wins – Pope has passed for a staggering 736 yards and 13 touchdowns. “Our team has never had a perfect season so that’s what we’re shooting for this year,” he said. “Our goal is becoming the county champions.”
While he already has impressive statistics, Pope is far from being satisfied.
“I think I can do better overall,” he said. “I’ve thrown 3 interceptions. I can make better reads overall and cut down on that. There’s always room for improvement.”

Duel success

Pope worked over hard over the summer to improve his game. All of the effort really paid off when the 12-year-old quarterback attended his first Duel and finished third among incoming seventh graders.
“I was trying to get into the Top 5, at least,” Pope said. “I had a bad first day and then I had a really good second day and finished in third place. It was my first time at the Duel, so finishing third is a pretty good spot for me. It gave me a lot of confidence for the season.”
Pope is fresh off his first Duel appearance, but he’s been training with NFA for three years.
“NFA has really helped me with my overall mechanics,” Pope said. “They helped me make throws down the field and they helped me improve in the short passing game. They also helped me become a better leader for my teammates.”
In addition to NFA, Pope’s older brother Tyler, who wants to be a football coach after completing college, has also helped him develop as a quarterback.
Tyler coached Tucker’s fifth-grade team that lost only one game and won the Bradley County Super Bowl.
Tucker Pope started playing flag football when he was 4 years old. He moved to tackle in the fourth grade.

At home at QB

Since he first stepped on the field, Pope has been a quarterback. “I like leading the team and helping my team win games,” he said. “I’ve always liked being involved in the offense and moving the team.”
Not only is he a successful football player, Pope is just as sharp in the classroom. He is a member of the National Beta Club, which requires a minimum 3.5 GPA. The Beta Club’s purpose is to promote the ideals of academic achievement, character, leadership and service among elementary and secondary school students.
“I’m just as excited about how he’s doing academically as I am about him playing quarterback,” said Stacy Pope, Tucker’s father. “You can’t do one without the other.”


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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University