Coming out of Valdosta High School two years ago, Georgia tight end Jay Rome was one of the top players in the country at his position.
After redshirting in his first season in Athens, Rome was penciled in as Georgia's second-string tight end behind redshirt junior Arthur Lynch, and many in Bulldog Nation expected big things from the 6-foot-6, 254-pound tight end.
As the season has worn on, Rome has gotten more and more involved in the Georgia offense, and on Saturday against Georgia Tech, recorded the first score of his young career.
It was a play in which he can describe in great detail and will likely never forget.
"(Aaron) Murray changed he play at the line of scrimmage, and I knew I had a post route," said Rome. "Once I got into my route, I saw the middle of the field open up, and I took a look back at him as I made my break and could tell he was looking at me. Then I ran a good angle and ran to grass pretty much. He put it on me and once I made contact with the defender, I knew I had to get big and get what I could. Then I realized that I was in the end zone. It felt good to get my first score. I didn't even realize it was my first touchdown until I got back to the sideline and started thinking about it."
In fall camp, head coach Mark Richt made comments to the media about how he wanted to see more out of Rome, and the Valdosta native believes that it is that kind of coaching and motivation that has allowed him to make plays like the one against Georgia Tech on Saturday.
"When he made that comment in the preseason, I said to myself, 'You know, I know what he means. I see that,'" said Rome. "Then I just worked hard to get better and become a better player and I have seen myself grow. I feel like I am no where near as good as I can be, but I am definitely growing as a player."
Since Rome redshirted his first year on campus, Saturday was his first opportunity to play in the Georgia versus Georgia Tech Rivalry game, and according to the former four star recruit, something about the game was very familiar.
"It reminded me a lot of when we would play Lowndes (County) when I was at Valdosta," said Rome. "Even down to the kind of offense that Georgia Tech plays. Lowndes would play that Wing-T and it is a lot like that triple option stuff that Georgia Tech does. I mean, that Valdosta/Lowndes rivalry is one of the best rivalries in the nation if not the best. I don't think there is another one like it, but this game definitely reminded me a lot of it."
Just 12 games into his career at Georgia, Rome understands that more challenges await him down the line, and the biggest challenge the season for he and the Bulldogs will come in Atlanta next weekend as Alabama awaits with the winner having a chance to play in the BCS National Championship Game
Preparing for that showdown is something Rome is anxiously awaiting.
"I'm ready to get started working on Alabama," said Rome. "We haven't talked about it much yet because it was all about Georgia Tech until now, but we will get ready for them soon. They are a great team, and we are going to have to get ready to play a great game."
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