If given the choice of describing his Georgia career as enjoyable or frustrating, redshirt senior tight end Jay Rome chooses a different description.
Rome was among the most touted members of the 2011 "Dream Team" class, but a foot injury has hindered his productivity. The 6-foot-6, 248-pounder from Valdosta tried to play through the pain late in the 2013 season before undergoing surgery, and he never got back to full strength last year.
"I feel like it's been a learning process," Rome said by phone Tuesday night. "It's been frustrating at times, but at this point I can look back and learn from things that I've been through. I went through high school without any problems, and I feel like these trials and tribulations have built character."
The Bulldogs held their fourth spring practice Tuesday afternoon and their first in full pads, working out for two and a half hours.
"It was a long, hard, physical day," coach Mark Richt said. "I thought the guys fought hard, but we have to learn to fight even more. Little by little, we are getting there."
Georgia will practice again Thursday and Friday before Saturday's first spring scrimmage.
Rome was Rivals.com's No. 56 overall prospect in 2011, and he redshirted before beginning to blossom late in the 2012 season. He made his first start that year against Georgia Tech, hauling in a 24-yard touchdown in a 42-10 win, and he had a 19-yard scoring reception the following week in the 32-28 loss to Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game.
If there is an upside to Rome's injury-plagued career, it's that he didn't have to go through it alone. Redshirt senior receiver Malcolm Mitchell, a fellow "Dream Team" signee from Valdosta, has endured his share of setbacks as well.facebook
"Malcolm and I are close and come from the same place, and then you think about what Justin Scott-Wesley and Keith Marshall have gone through," Rome said. "We've all been through some tough times, but we know it's not over and that we've got to keep pushing through to get back to the people we were before."
Rome has 30 receptions for 310 yards and three touchdowns in his career and is working this spring with sophomore Jeb Blazevich, redshirt sophomore Jordan Davis and early enrollee Jackson Harris. Rome started the first two games last year but was not at full strength, which allowed Blazevich to step in and capitalize with a stellar freshman year.
With his career in Athens down to just several months, Rome insists he will try not to pack too much into one season.
"I'm really excited about this upcoming year and just how I've been feeling these last four practices," he said. "I just want to go out and have fun, because I feel like that's one thing that I haven't been able to do as much since I've been here. It's always been about going out and trying not to hurt myself anymore."
Georgia's three quarterbacks vying for the starting role -- redshirt junior Faton Bauta, redshirt sophomore Brice Ramsey and redshirt freshman Jacob Park -- are taking their turns with the first-team offense.
Ramsey worked with the first team Tuesday, so he will drop down to the third team Thursday and be with the second team Friday.
"As far as opportunities and playing time, it's a pretty even chance," Park told reporters.
Brian Schottenheimer being the new offensive coordinator has leveled the field, with Ramsey admitting he had just gotten comfortable with Mike Bobo's playbook when Bobo left in December. Bauta said the verbiage used by Schottenheimer is definitely different but that "once you learn the concepts, it's the same stuff."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.