Cope with a dream on the Plains

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 16, 2002

It is no surprise that Andalusia graduate and Auburn freshman Joe Cope is currently practicing with the Auburn football team as an invited walk-on.

It is no surprise because Cope has always dreamed of donning the orange and blue.

It is also not a surprise because his father, Lucky Cope, played for the Tigers.

Joe Cope's decision to join the team has more to do with his own goals and objectives than living up to the legacy of his father.

"My dad played noseguard at Auburn," Joe Cope said. "I wanted to make my own name for myself."

Joe Cope is one of 11 invited walk-ons participating in drills with the Auburn Tigers.

Joe Cope has the genes to play college football, but he also has the physical presence.

The 18-year-old offensive lineman has the frame for the job standing six feet tall and tipping the scales at 255 pounds.

He also has the heart and desire to compete at the college level.

Andalusia High School Head Football Coach Paul Woolley only had good things to say about Joe Cope.

"Joe was a four-year starter for us here and he was truly dedicated to playing football," Woolley said. "I don't think Joe ever missed a day in the four years he was here."

One of the best examples of Joe Cope's ability and heart came from the head coach of an opponent.

T.R. Miller Head Coach Jamie Riggs was contacted by the Handley coach before Andalusia's first-round playoff game against Handley.

The Handley coach wanted a scouting report.

Riggs gave him a short scouting report.

"I told him to find number 77 (Joe Cope) and run the other way," Riggs said.

After the season, Riggs said he ran into the Handley coach and he agreed with Riggs' assessment of Cope's talent.

Woolley said Cope has talent and a desire to do the work necessary to play football. Woolley said that burning desire to do the work should serve him well on the Plains.

"Because of his tenacity I think he'll do well," Woolley said. "I think he probably could have gone to two or three smaller schools and played.

"But playing at Auburn is all he ever talked about while I was here (at Andalusia High Schools) -- he loves Auburn."

Lucky Cope said his son passed on smaller schools because he does not want to have any regrets.

"He said if he did that (went to a smaller school) he'd never know and always wonder if he could have played at Auburn," Lucky Cope said.

He also said his son's dream to suit up for Auburn played a part in his decision.

"Am I surprised he is at Auburn? No," Lucky Cope said. "It's always been his dream to go to Auburn and play."

Joe Cope is currently practicing at center and guard on the offensive line. Lucky Cope played noseguard and said his son would have been a monster during his playing days.

"He would have been a huge player back when I played," the older Cope said.

Joe Cope's love of football along with his desire to play for the Auburn Tigers could give area Auburn fans ever bigger reason to stand on their feet and cheer on the Tigers.

They could have one of their own on the gridiron for the Tigers.