"I had a great visit," Deion Pope said. "I wanted my mama to be able to see where I was going to be and I wanted her to love it up there like I do. She does now. We had a great time up there and we got to see everything. My mama got to meet everybody and see the dorms and the classrooms and all of that. It was great."
Pope reports that having the chance to show his mother the fruits of his own labor was the bigger part of the weekend. While many others may have trouble making a decision, Pope has always known Mississippi State was the place for him.
"My favorite part of the trip was taking my mama into the academic center and letting her see all of that," Pope shared. "Education means a lot to her and she really wants me to get my degree. My mama got to see how they do everything and how much they stress getting your academics taken care of.
"My mama is also a big Dan Mullen fan and she was happy that she got to get her picture taken with him. It was sort of like a dream come true for her. She was really excited about having her picture taken with him."
Over the course of the weekend. Pope was able to spend some time with long time friend and teammate Mark McLaurin. The Collins High School alums spent the weekend sharing memories over their football past as well as their dreams for their college futures.
"Mark was my host and he told me about everything," Pope said. "We have stayed in touch since he has been up there, so I had heard a lot of it all before. He told me that they work really hard and that at times you may want to quit. I told him that was what I was looking for. Nobody in the league (NFL) got there by taking it easy.
"He told me all about the workouts and how you have to work together and really push each other. He said they will make you stronger and they will help you get better. I can't wait to get there and get started."
In addition to his comments about having a strong work ethic on the practice field, McLaurin prepared Pope for the off the field efforts required to earn his college diploma.
"He told me how much they stress academics," Pope said. "He said that if I had a class that I was having a hard time in that they have tutors that can help you learn it all. He said that you have study hall and you have people there to help you. He said that if you put fort the effort that you can make your grades and that there are tutors who will work with you to make sure you're understanding everything.
"I was glad to hear that, because I really want to be able to graduate and show my mama my diploma. It made me a little less nervous about about all of that."
Pope to the scenic route from Collins, Mississippi to SEC football with a stop in the chicken houses of South Mississippi just to reinforce the importance of a college education.
"I was sitting there with my mama talking to Dan Mullen and he told me that he couldn't believe how far I had come," Pope said. "He came to see me in high school even though they knew I was going to have to take the junior college route.
"He told me back then that if I worked hard that they would have a spot for me. Then I ended up taking a year off, but went back to school and now they are going to sign me. Coach Mullen told me he thought he was more excited about me making it than me.
"I can promise you nobody is happier about me going up there in four weeks than me. I have worked hard for this and I can't wait to get up there and be a part of the team."
Through nine games this fall, Pope had 51 tackles, seven tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. For his efforts, Pope was named NJCAA 2nd Team for Region 23. The 6-4, 295 pounder will enroll at Mississippi State in January and compete for a spot in the rotation at defensive tackle.