It can be easy for Florida State fans to overlook Kendyll Pope. Although he earned a national championship ring, he redshirted during the Seminoles’ title season of 1999, and played the rest of his career largely overshadowed by Darnett Dockett. But defenses that forgot about Pope did so at their own peril.
Pope wasted little time in putting the nation on notice after continuing the tradition of Columbia High School defenders to head to Tallahassee from Lake City, Florida— like Brian Allen and Reinard Wilson. He helped lead the ’Noles to the national title game following the 2000 season as a redshirt freshman, earning first-team Freshman All-American nods from both Football News and The Sporting News.
He kept upping his production in the two seasons that followed, registering triple-digit tackles in both 2001 and 2002. The conference took note, as he was named an All-ACC honorable mention choice in ’01 and improved to a second-teamer in ’02.
Big things were expected of Pope in his final season, but a knee injury hampered his production. But that, in addition to the fact that he typically played as a reserve in his first season, really just serves to illustrate how prolific Pope was when at full strength and starting for two seasons. He finished with 28 career tackles for loss and a whopping 352 total tackles from his weak-side LB position— that total remains ninth in Seminole history.
The Indianapolis Colts picked Pope in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Will freshman offensive lineman Dontae “The Pope” Lucas further the legacy of this moniker? That would bode really well for the FSU OL.