Georgia landing a verbal commitment from Valdosta’s Jay Rome was huge.
It’s not that the five-star player, rated the nation’s top tight end prospect by ESPNU, likely will be needed to make a big impact immediately on the field for “Tight End U,” as he called it. Rome certainly will be given the chance to play early, but the Dogs are well stocked at the position with Orson Charles, Aron White and Artie Lynch, even if Bruce Figgins switches to fullback.
No, Rome’s biggest immediate impact might come before he ever even signs on the dotted line with UGA, by giving momentum to Mark Richt’s alternately praised and derided concept of a signing an in-state “Dream Team.”
After making his announcement on national TV, Rome was on hand Thursday night as Valdosta teammate Malcolm Mitchell, a Top 30 prospect at wide receiver and/or cornerback, also put on a cap with the Georgia “G.”
Both picked Georgia over Nick Saban and Alabama, which has to rank as a major recruiting coup for Richt. “I believe Mark Richt is a great coach,” Rome said. “I don’t feel like he’s going anywhere anytime soon. If we can get a couple of more guys to come in with me in this class, we’ll have everything we need at Georgia, and I believe we’ll start winning football games.”
Rome used his national media platform to try and get more prospects to climb on board the Dream Team train. Along with junior college defensive nose guard John Jenkins, Georgia badly needs Columbus running back Isaiah Crowell and Thomas County defensive end Ray Drew, who reportedly was present at Mitchell’s announcement in Valdosta.
“Isaiah, Ray, come be a Dawg,” Rome said on his broadcast. “We can have the dream team and we’re going to do it. Be a Dawg, baby!”
There are no guarantees in any of this, of course. The verbal commitments aren’t binding. And high school prospects don’t always pan out exactly as planned.
But Richt needs to restore some glamour and prestige to a program that’s been sadly lacking in momentum the past couple of years. Making his Dream Team a reality would provide some of that offseason momentum the Dogs need as they get ready for their national showcase game in Atlanta against Boise State to open the most important season in Richt’s coaching career.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg