Former Southern Miss standout Terrance Pope hired as EMCC’s defensive line coach

Published 12:38 pm Friday, March 17, 2023

SCOOBA – An eight-time state champion as a player and coach in the Mississippi high school football ranks, Terrance Pope has been hired as East Mississippi Community College’s defensive line coach. The announcement was made this week by head football coach Buddy Stephens of the reigning MACCC champion EMCC Lions.

“I am very grateful to be joining Buddy Stephens’ EMCC coaching staff and be a part of the premier football program in the MACCC,” Pope said. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get into the college coaching ranks here with the Lions and be able to compete for national championships.”

A former standout defensive lineman at the University of Southern Mississippi and South Panola High School, Pope enters the collegiate coaching ranks at EMCC following a decade’s worth of successful high school coaching stints at four different prep programs.

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Charged with continuing the Lions’ noteworthy trend of producing standout defensive linemen for the next level, Pope comes to the Scooba campus after serving two seasons as the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at reigning MHSAA Class 6A state champion Starkville High School.

Prior to his successful coaching stint under the direction of SHS head coach Chris Jones, Pope spent the two previous seasons in the same coaching capacity as defensive coordinator and defensive line coach for head coach Randal Montgomery’s North Panola High School squad.

A product of South Panola High School’s historical 89-game winning streak that produced five consecutive MHSAA Class 5A state championships (2003-07), Pope began his football coaching career at his prep alma mater following his Southern Miss playing career when his former high school head coach Lance Pogue hired him on SPHS’s staff beginning with the 2012 season.

Following his career-launching, six-year coaching stop at South Panola as the staff’s tight ends and defensive line coach, which produced two more Class 6A state championships (2012 & 2014) for the Tigers, Pope spent the 2018 season as an assistant on M.C. Miller’s coaching staff at Louisville High School. As the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Pope earned another state championship ring for the team’s Class 4A title run.

Pope’s championship pedigree was formed during his title-filled prep playing days at South Panola High School, where the Tigers went 60-0 with four straight Class 5A championships during his playing career (2004-07) in Batesville. As a senior, Pope garnered all-region and first-team, all-state honors from the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) before capping his high school career by participating in the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Classic.

Pope’s winning ways competing on the gridiron continued in the collegiate ranks at Southern Miss. Playing all four USM seasons (2008-11) under the guidance of coaching veteran Larry Fedora, Pope was a three-year starter at defensive tackle for the Golden Eagles. Debuting by earning 2008 Freshman All-Conference USA first-team honors, Pope went on to register 94 career total tackles, including 16.5 tackles for loss with 4.5 quarterback sacks, three pass breakups, and two fumble recoveries at Southern Miss. He played a key role on four straight winning teams that all participated in postseason bowl games en route to compiling a collective overall record of 34-19 (.642) and 20-12 league mark. Pope capped his productive college playing career by earning All-Conference USA second-team recognition from Phil Steele’s publication after helping lead the 2011 Golden Eagles squad to a school-record 12 wins, a Conference USA championship, and a victory in the Hawaii Bowl.

Pope is a 2012 Southern Miss graduate with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies as well as being certified in special education teaching. The Pope native has two children – daughter Madison, 10, and son Kruz, 3.