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February 10, 2009

Following a Legend

Tight end Jay Rome knows all about what it's like to be the son of a high school football legend.

To this day, ask long-time followers of the Valdosta Wildcats and right after the names of legendary coaches Wright Bazemore and Nick Hyder, Stan Rome's name pops immediately to mind.

With good reason:

Stan Rome was a star among stars on Bazemore's 1971 VHS squad, which was voted the national champion and to this day is regarded by many as the greatest high school team of all time.

Rome certainly did his part, setting a Georgia state record for receiving yards with 1,573 until it was broken two years ago by current Bulldog Tavarres King.

Following a two-sport career at Clemson (football and basketball), Stan Rome went on to play five years for the Kansas City Chiefs, that after being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA.

It's a resume his son Jay knows oh so well.

"My Dad was a 2 sport all American at Valdosta. Then he played both at Clemson, one year of football and all four in basketball," Jay Rome said. "Then he was drafted by Cleveland in the NBA, but cut right before season started. He played one year of semi-pro ball, and then was drafted by Kansas City Chiefs where he played for five years."

At 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, the younger Rome is carving a niche of his own and college coaches like Georgia's Mark Richt are taking notice.

Although just a sophomore, Georgia and Florida State have already offered Rome a scholarship, although he can't officially start being recruited until his junior campaign.

"It was surprising; I was at a loss for words really," Rome said. "But it also keeps me humble and reminds me my grades can keep my dreams from becoming reality."

Rome said he enjoyed the conversation that he had with Richt.

"It was great talking to him. I was glad to know they are interesting," Rome said. "He told me they were interested long ago."

A key member of the VHS basketball team (22-1), the Wildcats are ranked 5th in the state thanks largely to Rome who is averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds per contest.

He made the All-Region I-AAAAA team as a freshman.

Although he's still very early in the recruiting game, Rome said he did recently go to Tallahassee to check out Florida State for Junior Day and came away impressed.

He hopes to get up to Athens very soon.

"I may go see spring practice at Georgia," he said.

Clemson is also high on his list.

"They were the first to send mail, and they are definitely in my top three," Rome said. "My father is known around here pretty well, so the pressure is there, to live up to the standards he set."

Currently in the honors program at Valdosta High, Rome said coaches at Georgia and Florida State told him he could play a couple of roles.

"A tight end/wide receiver like a hybrid of the two," Rome said. "The FSU position coach said I can be a different kind of matchup with blocking and being able to flex out."

That would suit Rome just fine.

"It doesn't matter to me," he said. "I will play wherever they want me to, I will block or run routes."

As for a timetable, Rome said he has not decided, although he lists Clemson, Georgia, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Florida as his top schools.



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