Georgia Bulldogs: Aron White

ATHENS, Ga. -- Life is significantly less stressful for John Lilly these days in Georgia’s tight ends meeting room.

This time a year ago, Lilly was coaching two talented -- and yet vastly inexperienced -- tight ends in Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome, plus true freshman Ty Smith, after Orson Charles jumped to the NFL and Aron White graduated. Today the Bulldogs seem to be on solid footing at the position after Lynch and Rome emerged as productive receivers and reliable blockers.

“It’s a fun room to be in right now,” said Lilly, Georgia’s tight ends coach. “They’ve had a little experience, they’ve had a little taste of it and now it’s, ‘Let’s get better. Let’s see how good we can be,’ rather than, ‘Let’s just figure out where to line up and what to do and how to do it.’ So that is exciting. Every guy that’s in that room kind of has the same attitude.”

Thanks in part to injuries that robbed the Bulldogs’ receiving corps of its depth, Lynch and Rome accepted larger roles in Georgia’s passing game in the second half of last season. Lynch made 18 of his 24 catches for 283 of his 431 yards after the midway point of the regular season -- a stretch in which Rome also made nine of his 11 catches and hauled in both of his touchdowns.

[+] EnlargeJohn Lilly
Radi Nabulsi/ESPNGeorgia assistant John Lilly is excited about his group of tight ends this season.
Such production breeds confidence, Lynch said.

“You don’t really worry about that last play. If you made a mistake, you made a mistake,” Lynch said. “You’re numb to certain scenarios, but you also realize there’s more expectations. You’re not working to get around using the tight ends. I think the coaches are very much into involving the tight end.”

Although inexperience was the group’s biggest concern last season, depth was also a factor with just the three scholarship players on the Bulldogs’ roster. Depth remains an issue today after off-the-field issues led to Smith’s departure from the program, with freshman Jordan Davis replacing him as the third scholarship tight end alongside walk-on veterans Hugh Williams and Greg Mulkey.

Davis isn’t especially similar to Smith -- who appeared in eight games last fall -- but he is in a similar position as a likely freshman contributor simply because of the Bulldogs’ positional depth.

“Jordan knows the position he’s in,” Lilly said. “I think he’s got a lot of tools to work with. He’s a guy that is very, very conscientious, almost to the point of being overly serious. He needs to relax sometimes. But I do think he’s a guy that’s trying to be on an accelerated program to learn what to do and how to do it.”

At 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds -- up 20 since competing in the Georgia state track meet as a hurdler during the spring -- Davis already looks the part. He benefited recently from extra practice opportunities while an ankle sprain sidelined Rome, but admitted that Lilly does occasionally scold him for pressing during those practice reps.

“He gets on me sometimes about that because I really want to be able to contribute this year,” Davis said. “Sometimes he’ll correct me on a mistake that I make -- and it’ll be just a regular correction, not anything loud or anything. But I take everything pretty serious.”

As long as Lynch and Rome remain healthy, however, Davis’ time to become a heavy contributor will be next season at the earliest. He knows this season will be useful from a learning perspective -- and he has two solid leaders to follow.

Lynch, a preseason All-SEC pick, is typically listed among the top senior tight end prospects for next year’s NFL draft after a more-than-serviceable first season as a starter. He’s trying to ignore the preseason acclaim for now, however, and his reasoning is sure to please Georgia fans who believe the many NFL prospects on last year’s team grew distracted by their pro possibilities.

“It’s cool for that recognition and for those lists to be out there in the eyes and minds of scouts. It’s good for immediate exposure. But if I don’t match what I did last year and try to expand upon it, then it doesn’t really mean much,” Lynch said.

“I don’t really put too much stock in it. Maybe I would’ve if we won the national championship last year and I wouldn’t have been so intense to win every game. But I think that’s my most important thing.”

Spring cleaning: Jay Rome 

April, 24, 2013
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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.

By the numbers: UGA classes since 2006 

January, 18, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Here’s a breakdown of Georgia’s last seven recruiting classes and what they managed to accomplish in college and beyond:

2006
ESPN top five classes: Florida, USC, Texas, Georgia, Notre Dame
Georgia’s ranking: 4

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About Them Dawgs: Arthur Lynch

December, 30, 2012
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at tight end Arthur Lynch.

No. 88 Arthur Lynch
Junior/Tight end
21 catches, 394 yards, 2 TDs

Role in 2012: After contributing almost exclusively as a blocker before this season, Lynch finally got a chance to catch some passes this season and had a productive fall.

The good: After a fairly quiet first half of the season, Lynch made his presence felt in the second half. He had three catches in each of the last four games, including a couple of long catches on the Bulldogs’ last-gasp drive that died at Alabama’s 5-yard line in a 32-28 loss in the SEC championship game. Lynch had only two receptions in his career (all the way back in 2009) before this season, but showed he can be a weapon in the passing game by ranking fourth on the team with 394 receiving yards.

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About Them Dawgs: Jay Rome

December, 29, 2012
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Georgia’s Capital One Bowl date with Nebraska, we will review the season for a key Bulldogs player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at tight end Jay Rome.

No. 87 Jay Rome
Freshman/Tight end
11 catches, 152 yards, 2 TDs

Role in 2012: After redshirting behind Orson Charles and Aron White in 2011, Rome formed an effective tight end tandem with Arthur Lynch this fall.

The good: Rome played in every game and started once, against Georgia Tech, as a redshirt freshman. Rome caught at least one pass in each of the last five games and caught touchdown passes -- the first two of his career -- in the last two games. His 19-yard grab in the second quarter against Alabama helped Georgia take a 7-0 lead in the SEC championship game.

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UGA midseason report card: WR/TE 

October, 10, 2012
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Editor’s note: Georgia’s football season is halfway over and the Bulldogs will take this weekend off before resuming SEC play next Saturday at Kentucky. We’ll take a look at a different position group each day this week and evaluate how it performed in the first half of the season in our DawgNation midseason report cards.

ATHENS, Ga. -- One of the highlights of Georgia’s first five games was the production the Bulldogs were getting out of so many different players in the passing game. They enter the second half of the season in a slightly less certain position.

[+] EnlargeBrown
AP Photo/John AmisWith Michael Bennett out for the year due to injury, Marlon Brown and company will have to step up their efforts.
After the Tennessee game, Michael Bennett, Tavarres King and Marlon Brown all ranked among the SEC’s receiving leaders, plus tight end Arthur Lynch had enjoyed big games here and there. However, Bennett -- who was leading the team in catches, receiving yards and touchdown catches at the time -- suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, altering the dynamic within the group.

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Arthur Lynch talks hurdles, Clowney

October, 4, 2012
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Georgia was trailing Tennessee 30-27 on Saturday when the Bulldogs got the ball back with 37 seconds left in the first half. On first down, quarterback Aaron Murray hit tight end Arthur Lynch for a 16-yard completion to the Tennessee 49-yard line. While the catch was instrumental on the drive that ended in a Marshall Morgan 50-yard field goal to tie the game, the play was more memorable in how it ended.

The 260-pound tight end tried to hurdle 6-foot-1 defensive back Byron Moore. Lynch was unsuccessful and he blames coach John Lilly.

“The linebacker was supposed to match me but luckily I came open on the other end on a little drag route,” Lynch said. “I went upfield and it is funny because for the past couple years with Orson [Charles], Aron [White] and myself here, Coach Lilly would always bust our chops about never hurdling anybody -- people would always chop our legs down. As I caught the ball and turned upfield, the first image in my mind was coach Lilly’s face. I was like, ‘This better work or I am going to blame Coach Lilly.’ ”

It didn’t quite work as you can see in the video above.

“I went back and watched the film and I was mad because I could have easily went around that guy, gotten 10 more yards and gone out of bounds,” Lynch said.

Lynch of course had to tease his coach.

“Coach, this is completely your fault,” Lynch said. “You have been such a great coach up until this point. ... He got a laugh out of it.”

Lilly and Lynch may not be so jovial Saturday when they face No. 6 South Carolina. The Gamecocks have two of the best defensive ends in the SEC in the 6-6 Jadeveon Clowney and 6-8 Devin Taylor. Lynch remembers his previous battle with the twin towers.

“I played against them last year and they were both very good last year -- fast, long, strong guys,” Lynch said. “They are able to get their hands inside of you. So it will be a good test. It is going to come down to the fundamentals really -- our footwork, our hand placement and just being able to play fast, play smart and play aggressively.”

Jordan Davis plays bigger than he looks 

September, 26, 2012
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THOMSON, Ga. -- Georgia Bulldogs’ commit Jordan Davis (Thomson, Ga./Thomson) doesn’t look like the prototypical blocking tight end. Rather, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior calls to mind some of Georgia’s pass-catching tight ends like Orson Charles or Aron White. But when you see Davis on the field in the wing-T offense, images of Ben Watson or Jermaine Wiggins spring up due to his talent at sealing off defenders.

[+] EnlargeJordan Davis
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.comAt 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Georgia commit Jordan Davis relishes the blocking aspects of playing tight end.
“I have been blocking most of my career,” Davis said. “I am pretty good at catching, but there is room for improvement. I am great at running routes, but with my ankle I can’t plant and get back to the ball. I think I am a better blocker. I have some weight to gain and some power to gain, but I think I am up to date on where I need to be as a blocker.”

Davis had a bum ankle in his recent game against St. Pius X (Ga.), but he was the only one who could tell.

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Justin Hunter and Da'Rick RogersAP Photo/Wade PayneJustin Hunter (11) and Da'Rick Rogers (21) are considered to be the best receiving duo in the SEC.
Our SEC position rankings continue with a look at schools' wide receiver and tight end groups.

Past rankings:
On to the league's wide receiver/tight end groups:

1. Tennessee: The Vols are equipped with two of the top wideouts in the league with Da'Rick Rogers, who was second in the SEC in receiving last year, and Justin Hunter, who might be the SEC's top deep threat. It sounds like Hunter will be 100 percent this fall after his ACL injury last year. Junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson is big, fast and possesses the big-play gene. The speedy Zach Rogers is back and is so is talented tight end Mychal Rivera.

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Spring look: Tight end

March, 15, 2012
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To get ready for the March 20 start of Georgia’s spring football practice, DawgNation will do a position breakdown each day. Today we analyze the tight ends. On Friday we will look at the offensive line.

2011 starters (stats): Orson Charles, Jr. (45 catches, 574 yards, 5 TD)

Key losses: Charles; Aron White, 2011 senior (9-101, 4 TD)

Reserves (stats): Arthur Lynch, Jr. (0 catches); Jay Rome, RFr. (Redshirted)

New faces: Rome -- the nation’s No. 18 overall prospect and top tight end on the ESPNU 150 in 2011 -- redshirted last season because of the Bulldogs’ depth at his position. He figures to contribute immediately, as could Ty Smith (Moultrie, Ga./Colquitt County), who signed in February and should arrive in the summer.

Spring goal: Charles and White were just about the only Georgia tight ends to catch a pass through the last three seasons. Lynch caught the only two passes of his career as a freshman in 2009, totaling 17 yards, before redshirting in 2010 to gain extra class separation between himself and Charles.

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Pro day notes: Butler has high hopes 

March, 7, 2012
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Drew Butler is not afraid to say what he wants.

The former Georgia punter knows history dictates that few players at his position are selected in the NFL draft, but it is important to Butler that he become a drafted player.

“I think I’ve worked extremely hard throughout the past four years to become a draft-able choice,” Butler said, “and I think I’ve worked extremely hard throughout this entire evaluation process to be considered the top punter in the draft and to be that first punter taken off the board.”

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Quick pro day observations

March, 5, 2012
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Just got home from watching the extremely windy UGA pro day workouts. Will work up a couple stories in a bit, but here are a few quick thoughts.

* In all, there were 46 scouts in attendance, representing 30 different NFL teams. The Cowboys and Bears were the only teams who were not represented.

* Brandon Boykin said he is still working back toward 100 percent after breaking a bone in his leg while covering a punt at the Senior Bowl. He said he's at about 85 percent and will hold an individual pro day workout on campus in early April. He did participate in the bench press and completed 16 reps, which is better than the average for cornerbacks -- particularly one who played at about 180 pounds.

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Dungy, former Dawgs counselled Charles 

January, 11, 2012
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Junior tight end Orson Charles told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that he would forgo his senior season with the Georgia Bulldogs and declare himself eligible for the 2012 NFL draft.

“I will be entering the draft,” Charles said. “I just felt like I met the majority of all my goals. I felt like I have grown spiritually. Like Coach [Mark] Richt says, that is the first thing you have to do. I felt like I have grown as a player. And just praying about it, I felt like, with my family situation, I was read to enter the draft.”

[+] EnlargeOrson Charles
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesOrson Charles' next venture is the Walter Camp Weekend, after which he'll return home and pack his bags to leave for the NFL.
With the Jan. 15 deadline for declaring just days away, Charles rather recently made his choice.

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UGA position analysis: Tight end 

December, 22, 2011
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Georgia will lose senior tight end Aron White after the season and might lose junior Orson Charles to the NFL draft, but the Bulldogs believe the position will still be in good hands in 2012.

Georgia has redshirt sophomore Arthur Lynch and freshman Jay Rome returning next season -- and White said that would be more than enough for Georgia’s tight ends to remain effective.

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How the game was won: Georgia used an efficient passing game and a defense that produced two third-quarter turnovers to launch a string of 17 unanswered points between the second and third quarters. The Bulldogs had pushed their lead from 14-10 to 31-10 before Georgia Tech answered with a touchdown midway through the final period.

Stat of the game: 1-4-2. With Georgia Tech's defense struggling to control the Bulldogs' passing attack, the Yellow Jackets were forced out of their comfort zone and had to throw the ball in the third quarter. Quarterback Tevin Washington went 1-for-4 for 8 yards, but more importantly, threw interceptions to Michael Gilliard and Shawn Williams -- both deep in Tech territory. The Bulldogs scored a touchdown after the Williams interception to go up 31-10.

Player of the game: Aaron Murray. Georgia's quarterback carried the offense in the first half, going 13-for-18 for 193 yards and two touchdowns as the Bulldogs took a 17-10 lead into the locker room. Murray kept clicking in the second half, finishing 19-for-29 for 252 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Best call: Georgia hadn't handed the ball to a fullback once this season until it faced third-and-2 at the Georgia Tech 30 in the third quarter. Fullback Zander Ogletree surprised most everyone in the stadium -- certainly the Georgia Tech defense -- when he took a handoff 21 yards to the Yellow Jackets' 9. That set up a Murray touchdown pass to Aron White that put the Bulldogs up 31-10.

What it means: Georgia extends its winning streak to 10 games -- the longest in-season winning streak under Coach Mark Richt and longest for a Georgia team since the 1982 team won 11 in a row. The win is also Georgia's 10th against Georgia Tech in 11 seasons under Richt.

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