Jay Rome is entering his sophomore season at Georgia. Rome, as you will read below, believes he's part of the best tight end duo in the country, along with senior starter Arthur Lynch. The pair last year gradually became a big part of the passing game, and Rome finished the year with 11 catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns. He caught a 19-yard touchdown in the SEC championship game against Alabama. I caught up with Rome recently, discussing how summer workouts are going, and what he expects this season from himself, the tight ends and the offense in general.
Q: Tell me what you’ve been doing with your summer. Been spending more time in Athens than previous summers?
Rome: Yeah, I actually haven’t left Athens this summer. I’ve made a trip or two back home just for the weekend. But since the (school) year ended, I’ve been in Athens the whole time.
Q: Any reason for that?
Rome: I just wanted to stay in Athens to work out, just to get better. I stayed the entire month of May. May is usually our month to go home, but I decided to get a head start on summer workouts.
Q: Have a lot of the guys on offense also stuck around Athens this summer?
Rome: We actually had quite a few guys stick around during the month of May. I can’t remember an exact number, but we had quite a few guys stick around the month of May just to work out, get some extra work in. I feel like it’s gonna benefit those who stayed. It has benefited us, with the workouts we’ve had.
Q: Is there a hunger on the offense not to let up after last year?
Rome: Of course, that’s exactly what it is. And on defense too, a lot of the defensive guys stayed also. I can just say there’s a whole team thing. Everyone knows how close we got last year and trying to put forth that little bit of extra work this upcoming year so that we won’t fall short. So that we’ll be ready.
Q: Is that what happened, being the five yards away has affected everybody?
Rome: Of course. When you get that close to something that big and don’t get it, the only thing you think of it after the fact is what can I do to prevent that from happening again. So a lot of us wanted to work that much harder than we did last year. And last summer – coaches say they saw us work harder than they’ve seen in a long time last summer. And this summer everyone’s trying to work even harder than last summer. It’s just a work in progress, and we’re trying to keep the grind going.
Q: I get asked by fans whether the same thing that happened to the defense last year – not living up to expectations most of the season after pretty much everyone coming back – whether it will also happen to the offense. Do people come up to you and ask about that, and worry about that?
Rome: I might’ve been asked that a time or two, but when it comes down to it that’s nothing any of us really think about. The only thing that we’re thinking about is how we can improve as a whole, and how we can be the best players we can be individually, to come put forth a great team effort on the field. We don’t look at what they’ve rated us as an offense, or how good we have a potential to be. We just look at what we need to do right now to be in position to perform at our highest ability.
Q: At tight end, you and Arthur Lynch really came on last year and became a big part of the offense. Do you expect to be an even bigger part of the offense this year?
Rome: I definitely think we’re both gonna be a bigger part of the offense, and I’m really trying to become just a better all-around tight end. And I know Arty is also. I really think we’re gonna be the best tight end duo in the country next year. I mean, we’re both here in the summer. We’re working hard. We’re working with the quarterbacks. We’re working in the weight room. We’re working with the strength staff. I really just see a 1-2 punch, and that punch can go either way, with Arty in there or me in there first. I see both me and Arty getting a substantial part of the playing time next year and being a huge part of the offense. And like I said, I think we’ll be the best tight end duo in the country.
Q: As far as the tight end group, obviously Ty (Flournoy-Smith) isn’t with the team anymore. He could come back later. But have you talked to him, and how disappointing was it for all that to happen?
Rome: I talked to him early on, and I didn’t really want to get into any of the specifics of what happened, or what the consequences were. So I don’t really know what that all was about. But I can say that I talked to him and just encouraged him to stay humble, stay on his grind, and keep working hard. I mean we’re all human beings, we all make mistakes, and whatever happened in the past there’s nothing you can do about it today. So there’s no point in looking back on it, the only thing you can do is look forward to what you can do to put yourself in a better position for what’s coming up next. I just gave him a few words like that, just encouraged him, told him: It’s not over for you, just keep your head up, keep working hard, you’re gonna be in a great place someday if you just keep working hard.
Q: Have you had a chance to see much of (freshman) Jordan Davis? Obviously in this offense the third tight end will play sometimes.
Rome: Jordan’s up here with us now, and he’s been working all summer. (Aaron) Murray and some of the older guys, some of the juniors and seniors, we try to take the younger guys under our wings and try to teach them the playbook. We go out and do pass skill and do different activities on our own, because the coaches can’t be with us at this point in the summer. So it’s really organized, with how Murray sets up the pass skill, and how me and Arty take Jordan and just try to teach him, and get him out there on the field, and put him in situations where we can see what he can do. And just so far from what I’ve seen this summer, Jordan’s gonna be a great player. He learns fast, he’s coachable, he’s very athletic, he has soft hands. I’m excited to see what I can do.
Q: Last thing I’ll ask you. Anybody else offense, defense or whatever really impressing you in summer workouts?
Rome: I’m really impressed with the whole team, and not just from an athletic standpoint and whatever they can do, but just from a work ethic also. It seems like everybody is buying in and everybody is trying to make every single workout in the summer, even though they are not mandatory. The pass skills that Murray sets up aren’t mandatory but everyone seems to show up for them. So I’m just really excited for the work ethic and determination that everybody is displaying. Like I said, I’m really excited for the season. I think we’re gonna be really good.”