Mark Pope strengthens Canes’ No. 1 class ranking


Mark Richt is the type of coach, typically old-school in this manner, who has a certain way of doing things that he believes in. It’s a simple method, almost all the time. His uncomplicated approach to running an offense, for example, has been to keep the number of plays relatively low and the style — power run game, pro-style passing — straightforward. Perfecting those, rather than using trickery and foreign concepts, is the goal.

His plan for building a winning roster is to recruit two-thirds of his scholarship players from the state of Florida. He also wants to reel in two-thirds of those from the Hurricanes’ three-county backyard.

Locking down the “State of Miami,” as Howard Schnellenberger termed it close to four decades ago, doesn’t happen unless you recruit the best players at their positions that South Florida has to offer. Since Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties are typically loaded with skill guys, you can’t say you’re killing it locally unless you get the top wide receiver in the area.

That’s why the commitment of Mark Pope has such significant weight for the Hurricanes.

Pope, who committed after a long behind-the-scenes love affair, is a 4-star recruit from Miami Southridge High. At 6-1 and 175 pounds with elite speed, hands and the ability to put defenders on skates with his route-running, Pope has the goods.

He is rated the No. 3 receiver nationally by 247Sports. By those standards, he is the top wide receiver in the entire state of Florida — not just UM’s home base.

In beating Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Oregon, UCLA and numerous others for the talented pass-catcher, Miami strengthened its hold on the No. 1 spot in 247Sports’ composite team rankings for 2018. Pope’s commitment also boosted UM to No. 1 in Rivals’ rankings. That’s an early consensus, since Scout also has Miami on top (and that’s without ranking running back Lorenzo Lingard as a 5-star, like the others do). ESPN doesn’t do team rankings at this juncture.

According to 247Sports’ player rankings, the Hurricanes have three of the top five players in Florida (Lingard, Pope and cornerback Josh Jobe). They also have six of the top 25 and eight of the top 33.

Additionally, 247Sports’ composite rankings — a mix of recruiting website rankings — list three Miami coaches among the top seven recruiters in the nation: cornerbacks coach Mike Rumph (No. 2), receivers coach Ron Dugans (No. 4) and running backs coach Thomas Brown (No. 7).



Hurricanes’ 2018 class could be their best over a decade