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Shepherd calls on Pope to part defensive fronts

August 20, 2007|By BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - You probably won't find Ryan Pope in an Abercrombie and Fitch ad.

You definitely won't find him listed on a Shepherd University offensive stat sheet, either.

But you will find him on the NCAA Division II preseason All-American checklist.

Pope is a poster boy for the Rams offense even though he plays on the offensive line, where no numbers and few accolades show up in print. Still, he's listed as one of the best in the country in Don Hansen's Football Gazette.

How can that be?

"It just means everyone is doing their job, too," Pope said. "With what (running back Dervon Wallace) is doing, it's making us all look good."

Wallace is on the All-America list, too, but he has 2,689 yards and 43 touchdowns in two seasons to show as his credentials to be an All-American.

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In a sense, Wallace's numbers show why Pope should be one, too.

"The way I get noticed is by what Dervon does," Pope said. "If he shows up and gets 150 yards and three touchdowns, he gets noticed, but so do I. That's the way it works. If everyone does his job, we win and I get noticed."

There might be a little more work left for Pope to get the postseason notice, though.

The Rams are undergoing some interesting changes.

Wallace is the only proven back returning this season after running mate Bryan Wright graduated. That makes Wallace a marked man.

Shepherd will move quarterback Tyler Lazear into the starting role, replacing Dan Chlebowski. Lazear is the more mobile of the two, which might mean some moving pockets for rollout and bootleg plays.

It's all new wrinkles the Rams might need to help in their quest for a fourth straight West Virginia Conference title. And there's a 27-game regular season winning streak that dates back to 2004 to keep alive.

"We got some plays this fall to help us move the ball and get it downfield," Pope said. "Tyler will go out and get us moving and we won't miss a step."

If that happens, Pope will get noticed.

There's another way, though.

After fans watch Wallace when he breaks a long run for a score, they should remember to look back upfield.

They might spot No. 52 doing a little celebrating, too.

"When I get up and see the number on (Wallace's) back, it feels good," Pope said.

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