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Sylacauga’s Kelsey Pope climbs coaching ladder; lands on Tennessee coaching staff


The Pope brothers of Sylacauga continue to make strides in the coaching ranks of college football.

Kelsey Pope, a former quarterback for the Sylacauga Aggies, has just taken a coaching position at the University of Tennessee under new head coach Josh Heupel. Kelsey’s brother Kyle is recognized as one of the top up-and-coming young defensive coaches in the country. He is currently on the Memphis staff as the defensive line coach.

Kelsey graduated from SHS in 2010 and played college ball at Samford. While at the Samford, Pope finished his tenure as the Bulldogs’ all-time leader in receptions with 250 and still holds the Samford records for receptions with a 17-catch game against The Citadel in 2011.

Pope’s high school coach, Matt Griffith, had high praise for one of Sylacauga’s best athletes over the last 20 years.

“You just knew that both Kelsey, and his brother Kyle, were going to make it in any field they chose. Kelsey was one those rare kids that the play may work in practice, but if he didn’t execute it just right he automatically wanted to run it again. He was a coach before he ever knew he was going into coaching. For him to get this opportunity at Tennessee, I just couldn’t be prouder for him. I can promise you he will make the most of it too. Rare to have such a gifted athlete that has his work ethic, but his whole family is that way. Kyle was a tremendous worker as well. Keaton [Wilson] was a great duel-threat QB, and, if people remember, was MVP of the North-South All Star Game a couple of years ago. How lucky we all were to coach all them and know their family so well.  It’s why you get into coaching.” 

Kelsey was twice named to the All-Southern Conference coaches team as a first-teamer in 2013 and a second-teamer in 2011 and 2012, and earned the same spots on the All-SoCon media poll. He also spent some time with the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent, following a stellar career as a wide receiver at Samford.

Pope will join the Tennessee staff in an off-field role after most recently serving as the passing game coordinator and wide receiver coach at Gardner-Webb.

Pope has also spent time as a coach at Tennessee Tech, Shorter University and Ohio Northern.

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