K’Vaughan Pope came to Ohio State with with a glowing resume:
*The nation’s #9-rated inside linebacker according to Rivals and 247 Sports
*Consensus 4-star prospect, #4-ranked overall player from the state of Virginia
*All-around athlete as he played RB and slot WR in high school
* Rushed for 1,043 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior, caught 33 passes for 630 yards and seven TDs in 2016 to help lead his high school team reach the 4A state title game
* Registered 31 tackles-for-loss as a junior linebacker
But his career at Ohio State has mainly been as a backup at linebacker and playing on special teams.
The 2021 season, it was expected that he might become a starter finally as the linebacking corps lost everyone who started and played significantly, had gone on to the NFL. But during the first four games of the season, Pope was saddled behind younger linebackers Cody Simon and Tommy Eichenberg for playing time.
And that might be the reason, his emotions boiled over Saturday night during the Buckeyes 59-7 dismantling of the Akron Zips.
The incident happened during the first half where Pope tried to run onto the field in a substitution package. OSU defensive captain and fellow LB Teradja Mitchell waved him off, and that did not sit well with Pope, who became outraged and stormed down the sideline, started walking to the tunnel and then was brought back by an Ohio State staffer, namely former OSU star C.J. Barnett, who is the Director of Player Development. He then tossed his gloves into the stands and took off his jersey.
On Sunday, the senior apologized on his Twitter account.
“Last night I let my emotions get the best of me,” For that I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and Buckeye Nation. I made a mistake and know that I need to be better and do better. I’m going to take this time to reflect and work on my mental well-being.”
FROM HIS OHIO STATE BIO
Ohio State Overview
• Has played in 31 career games and been a key contributor on special teams
• Among his two tackles last season (2020) was 1.5 tackles for loss – for minus seven yards – and one quarterback hurry
• Recorded interceptions in back to back games versus Maryland and Rutgers in 2019
• Contributed 13 total tackles (six solo, seven assisted) and two pass breakups
• Had six tackles (two solo, four assisted) and one INT at Rutgers.
• Played in 11 of 14 games for the Big Ten and Rose Bowl champion Buckeyes as a true freshman, primarily on special teams
• Is exploring majors in management & industry