ATHENS - Jay Rome was decked out in a tie and khakis after Tuesday's practice. The freshman tight end was asked why he was making the rest of his teammates - and reporters - look bad.
"Basketball banquet," he said, smiling.
Yes, Rome is still shuttling between football and basketball. But that basketball post-season banquet may be among the last allowances he makes for hoops; Rome is moving into a much bigger football role.
That was evident in Saturday's first scrimmage of the spring, when Rome was credited with a couple touchdown catches. One was a 30-yarder during the normal part of the scrimmage, while the other was during a simulated goal-line drill, when Rome made what head coach Mark Richt called a "pretty acrobatic catch."
Rome said it was a special event, and not just because of the way he played.
"Before the scrimmage, me and my dad, we talked a lot and he told me to not focus on having a good scrimmage or doing this or that. He just told me to focus on having fun and playing football," Rome said. "I went out there and that's what I did. And I had the opportunity to make a couple good plays and I just felt really glad that I got the opportunity to make those plays with my Dad in the stands. So it just felt really great afterwards."
Last year Rome was rated a five-star prospect by several recruiting services, and the nation's top tight end prospect. But he redshirted last year, thanks to all that depth, and ended up joining the basketball team. (He has said he probably won't play hoops next year.)
Georgia needs Rome and junior Arthur Lynch to produce at the tight spot. The team lost Orson Charles to the NFL draft and Aron White to graduation; that duo was a very good tandem for the past three years, but Rome thinks he and Lynch can be the same.
"I want to come back and show everybody that even though Orson is gone, me and Arthur Lynch are gonna hold it down, and we're gonna be one of the best tight end duos in the country," Rome said. "And even though Orson was an outstanding player I don't think we're gonna lose much at the tight end position.
"I know there's some buzz about us being down a little bit at the tight end position, with just me and Arty being on scholarships until Ty (Smith) comes in next semester, and with me missing some workouts for doing basketball. I know there's a lot of talk that maybe the tight end spot is gonna be down. But I don't think that's the case at all. I know me and Arthur are having a pretty good spring, and I think we're gonna have a great year."
Rome also provided a clue as to how the coaches plan to use their new tight ends. He said he and Lynch are playing together in some sets, and not just on goal-line drills.
"There's a lot of stuff where Arthur and I are in at the same time, and I might be flexed out and he might be on (the) line," Rome said. "We have a lot of stuff where me and Arthur are both in. And I think we're gonna be a great duo."
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