E.A. Sports Today

JSU player’s former coach relieved after hospital visit


By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Eddie Bullock was understandably concerned when he first received news Troymaine Pope had been shot at a local nightclub over the weekend, but the Anniston High School football coach was feeling a whole lot better about things after visiting his former player in the hospital.

Pope, a former Class 4A Back of the Year for Bullock’s Bulldogs, was shot in the right arm during an incident outside AJ’s Sunset Bar and Grill in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning.

Bullock learned the news via text message after he returned from church. He visited his former star running back, now a rising junior on Jacksonville State’s preseason top 10 football team, at Northeast Alabama Regional Medical Center.

“Actually, it scared me at first,” Bullock said. “When you hear the term ‘shot’ you fear the worst. I wanted to go check on him.

“I was just concerned he was shot, had surgery and wanted to make sure he was all right. As long as I saw he was all right. … We laughed and talked about old times and that was it.”

Bullock, who described his relationship with the player as “pretty good,” said Pope didn’t offer up many details of the incident. He didn’t pry and refused to engage in speculation.

“He’s really not talking,” Bullock said. “He didn’t say a whole lot to me. Basically he told me he was at a club, a shooting took place and he took out to running.”

JSU officials confirmed in press reports their awareness of Pope’s involvement in the incident and the conducting of their own investigation, but have declined further comment. Gamecocks football coach John Grass or athletics department spokesman Greg Seitz did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Anniston Police issued a press release Tuesday offering details of the incident. It did not identify any victims, citing department policy, but Pope’s involvement was confirmed by multiple sources.

The APD release backed Pope’s account to his former coach that he was shot while fleeing “a commotion followed by gunshots.” It said he was treated for a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the right bicep.

Citing police reports, The Anniston Star reported vehicles owned by two women sustained about $2,500 in damage in the incident. The police release said officers met with a 29-year-old Talladega woman regarding one vehicle with a single bullet hole in the windshield.

“I was real surprised when I heard,” Bullock said. “In high school (Pope) never was even around situations like that, that I know of. That doesn’t even sound like his character.”

Police said barring arrests it would release no further information on these cases.

Pope has been a regular in the Gamecocks’ backfield since his arrival in 2012, the flashy complement to Walter Payton Award candidate Damarcus James’ power. Last season as a sophomore he rushed for 633 yards and scored eight touchdowns.

Al Muskewitz is Content Editor/Senior Writer for East Alabama Sports Today. He can be reached at musky@wrightmediacorp.com.

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