Mark Pope is a polarizing figure for the Miami Hurricanes. A former consensus four-star prospect by ESPN, 247 and at one point a five-star in the Rivals rankings, the junior has been at times hit and miss. The miss we will eventually get to.
Pope finished a respectable third on the team in receptions last year (33) and also receiving yards. (403) The two touchdowns he amassed in 2020 were particularly on the low side considering his penchant for garnering advantageous one on one matchups.
The shifty speedster had a great game in 2020 vs North Carolina State. He recorded a career high six catches and 97 yards. That type of performance shows the capability of the wide out and the flash potential he possesses.
Here you will see a case of the aforementioned as Pope is one on one and takes a fake bubble and go for pay dirt.
I am still at it. 2nd half action. ACC teams you were cute daring the #canes to beat you outside. This game will have you rethink this prerogative. 620 yards didn't happen by accident. #BANG!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/cFxyorqw1g— rOmaN (@Romancane) November 8, 2020
Between his sophomore and junior year, Pope saw action in 23 games. The total in those two seasons have been 41 receptions, 669 yards and four touchdowns. You would have hoped for that to be a single season worth of statistics however that has not been the case.
When you mention the player it is hard to escape the obvious. Pope has simply not been sure handed while he has donned the orange and green. A problem that has blunted his efficacy and cost the Hurricanes at often critical or inopportune times.
Mark Pope with a costly drop on the N'Kosi Perry heave deep into Cowboys' territory.— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) December 30, 2020
Another drop on a wide open pass.— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) April 17, 2021
by Mark Pope.
Dee Wiggins has one drop on a beautiful deep throw by Jake Garcia, with CB DJ Ivey making great defensive play.— Susan Miller Degnan (@smillerdegnan) April 17, 2021
Mark Pope has one drop with not a soul near him.
Confidence could be an issue here as the drops continually manifest. The reality is up until this point, Pope has not been looked upon as a sure handed weapon but rather a hazard light that continuously flashes without staying on.
Truth is truth. This isn’t an indicative future sentence but rather a snapshot of the past. When you find yourself in the bottom two of the ACC in terms of drop percentage, that drastically needs to change. I believe it can.
Former Miami Hurricane wide receiver Tommy Streeter comes to mind as someone who struggled with the drop early in his career but ultimately found success later. In 2011, Streeter led the team in both receptions (46) and yards (811)...Streeter’s yardage total was good for fifth-best in conference. Streeter came off a year where he only caught one pass in 2010.
In that clip Streeter vivaciously declares that Pope is the future. The future has to be now for Pope as the reclassified junior has a loaded room full of wide receivers nipping at his heels. Every future drop will be met with a cacophonous echoing of boos and ominous shadows of teammates willing to pry playing time from his hands.
Does Pope still have an incredible amount of talent that can mimic the success he found last year at North Carolina State? Absolutely. Does he have time to navigate troubled waters and work through some inconsistency on the field this year? Absolutely not. Tommy Streeter said “Mark Pope is the future.” Hopefully Pope shares the future Streeter had in the later portions of his Miami Hurricane career.