ATHENS — Georgia’s Jay Rome said there’s an attitude in the tight end meeting room that all inhabitants therein share.
“If we see a linebacker has come out to cover our tight end, that’s a win for us every time,” Rome said this past week.
And based on the comments coming out of the Bulldogs’ preseason camp, the ball is going to be coming the tight end’s way every time in that situation – and others.
As much talk as there has been about Georgia’s depth of talent in the offensive backfield and at outside linebacker, the Bulldogs feel similarly confident about the skill they have assembled at the tight end position. Of course, that’s not unusual at a school that has been dubbed “Tight End U” before. But they feel particularly blessed at that position this season.
In addition to the experienced 6-foot-6, 248-pound Rome, a fifth-year senior who is called “Grandpa” by his cohorts, the Bulldogs return Jeb Blazevich (6-5, 232), who started 10 games as a freshman last season, and redshirt sophomore Jordan Davis (6-4, 230), who has been impressive in preseason camp. They also added 6-6, 247-pound freshman Jackson Harris, who started turning heads as an early enrollee back in the spring, and have walk-on junior Jared Chapple in the fold.
“We’re really deep right now. I feel like we can be the best out of any group that’s been here,” said Rome, who has been part of some strong units in his five seasons in Athens. “But we really have to put in the work first and keep working hard to do what we have to do.”
Said head coach Mark Richt: “Potentially, they could be very good.”
That’s just part of the good news for the players that play that position. First-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has recognized the riches Georgia has there and knows how to utilize them.
A traditional pro-style coach his entire NFL career, Schottenheimer’s tight ends have always played a big role in his offenses. Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks, his tight ends with the St. Louis Rams last season, combined to make 79 catches for 893 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
“We like tight ends here, so we’re going to use them in different ways to keep people off-balanced by using them in different spots,” Schottenheimer said. “Those four guys have had maybe the best camp of everybody. Done a real good job. Again, from Jay Rome down to Jordan Davis, all those guys have done a good job.”
That Georgia has a strong set of tight ends to rely on is particularly comforting in a year in which it remains unsettled and unconfident in the quarterbacks. There’s nothing better for an unsure quarterback than to know he can always look for the big guy squatting in the zone over the middle or running a skinny post down the hashmarks.
“I feel like the guys we have in our room right now are really big and athletic guys who can do a lot of different things — run block, pass set, go out in routes, catch passes,” Rome said. “We’d had a lot of energy within the segment and we’ve been encouraging each other. We’re working together to try to make everybody the best tight ends we can be. We’ve been working hard and it’s been paying off for us.”
It could pay off well for the Bulldogs, too.