Cody Pope, maybe the next starting right tackle for the University of Tennessee, is a new favorite for the “five minutes with” feature. He didn’t mention until the end that he was hurrying to attend a WWE event at Thompson-Boling Arena. But Pope isn’t your average player. He’s also a 300-pound, lifelong vegetarian. The amusing Pope discussed his eating habits, his basketball career and WWE during a Tuesday phone conversation.
Q. Ever met a vegetarian that’s bigger than you?
A. “Nope. The next biggest would be my dad. My family raised me as a vegetarian. He’s a big guy, too. He’s about 6-foot-4, 240 pounds.”
Q. So how do you weigh 300 pounds without meat?
A. “I eat everything in sight except for meat. I’m in good shape. I don’t eat unhealthy food. I don’t eat fatty meats, and I’m not going to go to McDonald’s. But whatever I can get my hands on, I eat it. A lot of guys on the team tell me, ‘Cody, if you did eat meat, you would weigh 500 pounds.’”
Q. What do you like to eat?
A. “Well, in California I loved fish tacos. I’ve only found one good place in Knoxville with good fish tacos, and that’s the Sunspot on the Strip. Put that out there and get them some marketing (laughs).”
Q. You were also a basketball player in high school?
A. “Yeah. To be totally honest with you, my high school coach told me the only thing I needed to do was foul out. My job was to let everybody know they couldn’t make a basket in the paint with me in there. I played against (former Arizona star) Chase Budinger and I actually did well against him. He dunked on me on his first try, but he didn’t get any dunks after that and only got eight points. I was an enforcer. And I got some offensive rebounds.”
Q. You’re a smart kid and a good student, but your career was delayed because of your score on a test. How frustrating was that?
A. “It was real frustrating because I know what kind of student I am. Look at me now. I’m here getting over a 3.0 GPA and I’m working my butt off. I’m not a guy who is going to slip through the cracks. I’m really trying, and not just for a degree. I want to get my master’s degree. Having a test like that hold you back was an extremely hard time for me.”
Q. Are you playing more right tackle or guard right now?
A. “The last couple of days it’s been right guard. But today I did play some tackle. It’s the spring, so now is the time to move around. Tomorrow I might be a tight end. I’ve got some hands (laughs).”
Q. Athlete you would pay to see play?
A. “Funny you say that. If I wasn’t on the phone with you, I’d be going across the street to see a WWE match. I’ll pay to see some wrestling.”
Q. Favorite wrestler?
A. “Got to be Hulk Hogan. But even still I like Ric Flair. He’s the dirtiest man in the game.”