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Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Spring cleaning: Jay Rome

By David Ching

Editor's note: Over the next couple of weeks, we'll clean out our notebook from Georgia's spring practice to tell the stories we didn't get to before the Bulldogs' G-Day game. We started with fullback Quayvon Hicks earlier this week. Today we catch up with tight end Jay Rome.

ATHENS, Ga. -- Jay Rome and Arthur Lynch established themselves late last season as weapons in Georgia’s passing game. Now Rome has an ambitious goal for the duo entering their second season as the Bulldogs’ primary options at the position.

Jay Rome, Nick Perry
Jay Rome caught a touchdown pass in the SEC title game, highlighting a strong finish to his first season.
“I think we just kind of came out last year and wanted to prove that we were all-around tight ends and that we had to move on from the Orson [Charles] and Aron [White] era,” Rome said during the final week of spring practice. “I learned a lot from those guys, and now I’m just trying to establish my own name, and Artie’s establishing his, and last year I think we proved what we can do. I think this year that we’re going to dominate and be the best tight end duo in college football.”

That expectation fueled Rome’s decision to step away finally from a sport he loved to play -- basketball, where he was a walk-on with Mark Fox’s 2011-12 UGA team after football season ended -- in order to focus completely on football. Nobody asked him to drop basketball, Rome said, but he knew it was a decision he had to make.

“I just felt like it was time to start getting serious about preparing myself for the next level and preparing myself for being the best tight end I can be here at Georgia,” Rome said. “I feel like it was the right decision for myself, for the coaches, for my teammates. I think that I was benefiting everybody by being with the team full time and applying myself 100 percent in football.”

For one thing, Rome fully participated in football winter workouts for the first time. Ever.

Instead of preparing himself for the cardiovascular demands of playing basketball, he worked on developing strength that will help him on the football field this fall -- like when he needs to break free from a bigger defensive end at the line of scrimmage or get off a jam by a linebacker.

“I lost some weight and put a little bit back on in muscle tone. I tried to strengthen my core a lot, so it’s just different types of shape from basketball to football,” he said. “Basketball shape is a lot about just endurance and your lung capacity and getting up and down the court, where football is a lot more physical game, and it has a lot more to do with your muscle tone and your physicality.

“Going through those winter workouts I think really helped me with that aspect of it.”

Now he wants to build on a redshirt freshman season that was moderately effective. Rated as ESPN’s top tight end prospect in the nation when he signed in 2011, Rome came on late last fall to complete his first college season with a flourish. He caught at least one pass in the last five games of the regular season and scored touchdowns against Georgia Tech and Alabama, finishing the season with 11 receptions for 152 yards.

He feels that was only the beginning, however, after slowly getting his bearings late in his first trip around the SEC.

“I felt comfortable last year, but it’s still like I’ve said before, game experience is just something different. Being able to play against all the great competition we played against last year, being fortunate enough to play against Alabama in the SEC championship game, even though we fell a little bit short, I think it’s all just learning. It’s all life lessons on and off the field, just to teach you different things about life and about football, and I think that just gives me that much more of a comfort level going into the season this year.”