If last Saturday is any indication, there will be more thrills than grills this year for Georgia tight end Jay Rome.
The 6-foot-6, 254-pound redshirt freshman headlined the first scrimmage in Athens, catching a 30-yard touchdown pass from Hutson Mason and a second score from walk-on Parker Welch in a goal-line drill. His first spring practices are following a winter in which he logged 17 minutes in seven games as a reserve for the basketball Bulldogs.
"I want to be both a receiving tight end and a blocking tight end," Rome said after Tuesday's practice. "With my size and being able to jump and run, a lot of people expect me to be a guy who can stretch the field or go up for high balls, but I really want to pride myself in being one of the best blockers, too."
Rome was the most prominent member of Georgia's 2011 "Dream Team" signing class -- he was ESPN's top tight end nationally -- who had to redshirt last season. He said it was not his intention to sit but was informed after preseason camp that Orson Charles, Aron White and Arthur Lynch would be the ones playing at that position.
White and Lynch redshirted previously and helped Rome get through last season, as did his passion for grilling.
"When the team played an away game last year, [redshirt freshman receiver] Justin Scott-Wesley and I took road trips back home to see our families and to have cookouts," he said. "I love to grill. I can't have a big grill in the dorm, but I have a little grill, and I will grill for me and [cornerback] Malcolm Mitchell, my roommate."
The admitted "steak guy" caught his 30-yarder Saturday on a pass down the middle and apparently made quite the reception on his ensuing score. Perhaps he was emulating Randy Moss, his favorite receiver growing up, or just showcasing his athletic ability that has allowed him to play two collegiate sports.
"His one catch during goal-line was pretty acrobatic," coach Mark Richt said. "He had to turn his body and reach back to snag it. It was a really nice catch."
Charles and White have moved on, leaving Lynch as the only tight end with playing experience and with Rome as his chief challenger. The two could split time as Charles and White did during much of their time together, and there doesn't seem to be any friction in the competition.
"When I made my two big plays Saturday, Artie was one of the first faces I saw to come congratulate me," Rome said. "Artie is a great blocker and a great receiver, and I see both of us playing a lot. I think we can be one of the best tight end combinations in the country."
The Bulldogs practiced outside Tuesday for about 90 minutes before lightning moved them into their multipurpose indoor facility. Sophomore defensive end Ray Drew was too sick to practice, while freshman tailback Keith Marshall sat out with a hamstring pull.