August 14, 2012

Rome not built in a day

There's a little tradition tight end Jay Rome likes to do, he says at least three times a day, an act many in a cynical world might not totally comprehend - he calls his dad.

"I love my dad so much. Me and him have a really, really close relationship and I talk to him three times a day," Rome said. "I'll call him after every camp, every meeting just to tell him how I did, how I thought I did."

The younger Rome couldn't have a more knowledgeable ear to bend.

For those who call South Georgia home, the last name Rome is considered high school football royalty.

Stan Rome, Jay's father, remains a Georgia prep legend, starring at Valdosta High before going on to play football and basketball at Clemson, eventually being taken in both the NFL (1979) and NBA Draft. (1978).

A redshirt freshman, Jay Rome has learned his lessons well, both what it's like to grow up in the shadow of a famous parent, but also follow in his considerable athletic footsteps.

But while some youngsters might choose to carve their own niche, Jay Rome embraces his dad's wealth of knowledge and looks to tap into his wisdom every day.

"I might tell him something I thought I need to do better and he might give me tips on how to improve," Rome said. "I take that, take the advice Coach (John) Lilly gives me and use it to critique myself and make myself better."

As a former tight end himself, there's plenty of knowledge Stan Rome is still able to impart.

"He tells me little tricks about how to get open, or how to get off jams or something about footwork," Rome said. "Sometimes it's just motivational stuff."

There's still apparently plenty he needs to learn.

Currently listed as the Bulldogs' No. 2 tight end behind starter Arthur Lynch, Rome is assured to get plenty of playing time, but there are still lessons that must be learned.

"Obviously, you go by what you see every day in practice and Artie knows exactly what to do and how we want it done," Lilly said. "Jay has learned extremely quickly and kind of knows what but doesn't always know how."

That's something Rome will readily attest.

"There are some small things in my routes, just technical things … getting off my jams and everything, adjusting my body position to what coverage the defense is playing," Rome said. "I'm just working on putting myself in position so I can make those plays."

Rome is happy with where he is physically.

After playing basketball for the Bulldogs during winter semester, Rome's weight dropped to 250. But since returning to football and strength coach Joe Tereshinski's summer program, he's back up to the 260 mark where he was before trading his cleats for sneakers last October.

"I'm feeling really good. I actually got down to 250 during basketball season and then with football, I put the weight back in a better way," said Rome, now at 262. "I got the weight back on in the right way, and I'm moving a lot better with it now than I did before."

Now, it's all a matter of putting what he's learned n order to get his career headed in the right direction.

Bulldog fans saw splashes of what could come during the annual G-Day game when Rome caught two passes for 73 yards and a touchdown, the score coming on a 60-yard catch-and-run.

"I'm just trying to come out hard and try to make sure the next day's my best," Rome said. "I watch a lot of film; break down film every day after practice and just trying to get better. I just want to put myself in position so I can make some more big plays."