Austin Pope talks new coach hire, Outback Bowl performance

One of Tennessee's newest tight end commitments discusses the hiring of his new tight ends coach with InsideTennessee.

Austin Pope really didn't know anything about his new position coach when Tennessee announced his hiring Monday. The Scout three-star tight end and Vols commit gleaned most of his information about Scott from the media initially, until he found out a fellow Tennessee commit knew the first-year Tennessee coach about as well as anyone recently. 

Carlin Fils-Aime, a Scout four-star running back from Naples, Florida, was recruited by Scott when he was at Miami and raved about the newest addition to the Vols' staff. Scott is known for his affable personality and ability to connect with recruits, something Fils-Aime discussed with Pope at length.

"Carlin loves him to death," Pope said. "He's been recruiting him since, I think, his freshman year. They have a really good relationship. I asked him what kind of coach he is and he said he's a fiery, a big jokester, but when he comes down to it it's business. He said he is just a great overall guy." 

The No. 3-ranked tight end in the Volunteer State was able to watch Tennessee's blowout win over No. 13 Northwestern in the Outback Bowl and is encouraged both by the hiring and the way Butch Jones utilized his tight ends in the matchup. Alex Ellis and Ethan Wolf combined for five receptions and 98 yards in the 45-6 blowout, and Pope told InsideTennessee he appreciated the targets and blocking scheme that helped free up Tennessee's rushers for a monumental day on the ground.

"The tight ends caught four or five balls and made some big plays downfield," Pope said. "That was exciting for me because I was thinking that could be me making big plays going up the middle. Also, just blocking. Whenever (Jalen) Hurd running the ball or Josh Dobbs, the tight end made a key block a lot of the times. The tight end is a big factor on offense and I'm excited to fill that role behind Ethan Wolf or whoever that may be." 

The Christian Academy of Knoxville standout begins his last semester of school this week, and reality is quickly setting in that this is his last stop before heading to play college football. For now, Pope is hoping to soak in as much of his high school experience as possible before he ventures to Tennessee to help headline a 2016 class that wants to continue building the Vols toward becoming a perrenial SEC East title contender once again.

"I was just thinking, we've got like five months left of being a high school student. I soon as I graduate I move in within the next two weeks. I guess it's kind of hit me. I'm kind of ready for the next level," Pope told IT.

"I've kind of outgrown high school, I guess you could say. I feel like I've been there for five years. I'm just ready for something new. I've got to get my body in the best shape I can and just be willing to learn and learn from the players, as well as the coaches. I'm just excited overall." 

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