Too bad Georgia is not playing Georgia Tech this Saturday. Might save Jay Rome some travel hassles.
The big five-star tight end from Valdosta will be in Powder Springs on Friday night along with the No. 5-ranked Wildcats (10-1) as they take on McEachern (10-1) in the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs. A week later, Rome plans on being in Athens for Georgia’s final regular-season game against Georgia Tech.
“Yeah, I’m going to try to come,” the 6-foot-6, 240-pound athlete said Tuesday evening. “That’s the plan.”
That would be a significant development for the Bulldogs, who are focused on Rome as their one-and-only tight end target in the class of 2011 at this point. They have offered other prospects, such as five-star recruit Nick O’Leary of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. But as the recruiting process has developed, Rome is their undisputed No. 1 and sole focus at that position.
Meanwhile, Rome has been scarce on the recruiting trail this season. He has chosen instead to focus on his team and his senior football season. He said Georgia will be the only recruiting trip he’s made during the season.
“I’m going to take all the rest after the season,” Rome said.
Rome said his favorites remain Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Clemson. His father, Valdosta sports legend Stan Rome, played football and basketball at Clemson. A decision, however, does not appear imminent.
“I’m going to try to do it by the Under Armour [All-America] Game,” he said, “but I’m not sure if I’ll have a decision by then.
Rome is at least the second five-star recruit planning to attend the Bulldogs’ game against Georgia Tech. AJC Super 11 running back Isaiah Crowell of Columbus also plans to be there.
Georgia is also hoping Thomas County Central defensive end Ray Drew, another five-star prospect, makes it to the game. Drew has not yet decided.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs also are focusing hard on Rome’s teammate, Malcolm Mitchell. The dynamic two-way athlete — he’s burning it up as a wide receiver — is also expected to come to Athens for the Tech game, though Rome said he’s “not sure” if his friend is coming with him.
Together, Mitchell and Rome have become an almost unstoppable offensive force for the Wildcats. Along with quarterback Ryan Whilden — who has thrown for 2,560 yards and a school record 28 touchdowns this season — they’ve been lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 34.7 points per game.
Mitchell leads the team with 69 catches for 1,291 yards and 14 touchdowns. Rome has caught 37 balls for 494 yards and 6 TDs. They combined for three TD catches in Valdosta’s 34-13 win over Windsor Forest last week. That has been about par for the course this season.
“They’re two of our best play-makers, obviously, so we’re trying to get the ball in their hands,” Valdosta coach Rance Gillespie said. “Both of them are very talented. They do a great job.”
Meanwhile, Rome said neither he nor Mitchell are thinking about recruiting this week. All their attention has been on Friday night’s game at McEachern.
“I think we’ll have a good game,” he said. “We’ve had a good week of practice and I think we’re going to come up there and play well and win. We’re playing really good right now. We’re throwing the ball around a lot, spreading it around and running the ball, too. We’re moving the football.”
And Rome is one big reason why.