Florida offers Rome Who Returns the Interest

The Florida Gators signed one defensive end in the class of 2009 and are looking to add some beef up front for 2010. The offers are going out, but none of them are for a lineman like Chase Rome. The 6-3, 281 pound Rome is a beast off the edge for his Columbia (MO) Rockbridge HS defense. Rome has a history in Florida and the Gators are definitely high on his list at the moment.

As recent as five years ago Chase Rome was living in South Florida and competing on the football field. A bad year of weather in 2004 that Floridians are all familiar with caused the Romes to pack up and move away, landing Chase and his football career in the heart of Missouri Tiger country.

"I lived in Florida till I was about 14 years old," Rome said earlier this week. "My dad owned a tele-radiology company. We had a location down there until the hurricane hit and messed it up pretty bad. The power lines were down...the city was in curfew and everything. They needed a second location and decided on Columbia, Missouri."

Rome's highlights have been a source of big Internet talk for the last few weeks and with that came an offer from the University of Florida. Rome was a bit surprised when he found out he was being offered by the National Champs.

"I called them this weekend and was talking to them," he said. "I had a follow up call (Tuesday) and I guess I was supposed to have seen (the offer), I don't know. Coach McCarney started to talk about it and I was in disbelief and had to verify if they were actually offering me. Then they took my address and stuff. Then I talked to Coach Meyer a couple of times (Tuesday night)."

So far Rome has hit it off with Florida's defensive line coach Dan McCarney.

"Coach McCarney seems like a cool guy, but I've only talked to him twice," Rome said. "He seems to know everything about Florida football. He said what they were looking for is for guys to play harder than everyone else and he liked that about me...I seem to get after it on every play."

He has also formed a quick opinion of Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer.

"Coach Meyer is laid back but straight forward," Rome said. "He's business, but he will crack a joke in between just to keep it (light). He also said he likes how I outwork everybody. He said how competitive they are and how many players they bring in. He said it takes a certain type of person to play Florida football.

Rome would be a big end at 281 pounds but he also runs 4.7 seconds in the 40 yard dash and flies off the edge with reckless abandon. Schools are recruiting him to play different places along the line.

"The different programs have said different things," he said. "K-State wants me at defensive end, Oklahoma said defensive tackle, Oklahoma State says defensive end unless I get a lot bigger. They haven't said yet at Florida. I'd like to play on the outside as I have played there my whole career. But, I will play wherever...the coaches know best."

He isn't ready to narrow it down very much, but he does have a few teams that are near the top of his list at the moment.

"Oklahoma is definitely up there...I was out there this weekend," he said. "I went to Oklahoma for an unofficial and then the next day I went to Oklahoma State for their junior day. I like Oklahoma State's coaching staff and facilities a lot. I am going to give them a better look. I like USC a lot, I haven't heard from them and am waiting on that one."

There are a few things he likes about the Sooners that already stand out to him during this process.

"No nonsense, they are physical, they run it down your throat and get back up and do it over again," Rome said. "I like their coaching staff. I just think I fit in their program right now."

The hometown Missouri Tigers are also a team to be reckoned with in his recruitment.

"It's one of those things where I can walk to Mizzou from my high school," Rome said when I asked why he wasn't mentioning them much. "So, when I am receiving interest from other schools like Florida and OU, I have to plan ahead for those schools. They aren't eliminated or out of the mix, I just know all about them and they aren't going anywhere."

The Gators do seem to leave a little extra zip in his voice when he talks about them.

"I watched the National Championship and Ole Miss," he said. "I also saw the game against Hawaii. Their defense is great. They just play a lot harder than anyone else in the country. They are all fast, well disciplined, and they hit you in the mouth,. All of that is a huge attraction for me."

It took a while, but he said he finally realized just what Florida accomplished on January 8 when they were able to hold the nation's leading offense to just 14 points and win the national championship.

"It wasn't till after the season that I realized how explosive Oklahoma's offense was," Rome said. "I am from Columbia, and surrounded by everything Mizzou. We hate Oklahoma and do so great until we play them and then they just crush us. I followed Oklahoma, some USC, and some Florida. I was super impressed when they held Oklahoma to 14 points, especially now when I realized how good Oklahoma's offense was."

Rome is starting to form the criteria he is going to use to make his final decision.

"How I connect with the coaching staff, the strength of schedule, and tradition and goals the teams have in mind," he started when listing off his priorities.

Then he elaborated on the one that stood out different from most prospects' priorities.

"Strength of schedule...if you are a big dog, you play big dogs. I guess I can see scheduling one or two out of conference, but playing the great teams is the only way to get better. I prefer not to play some of these (weaker) teams. Oklahoma has Notre Dame and Florida State scheduled for the next couple of years."

He also wants to be a part of a team that he will have to work to get on the field and play, nit necessarily somewhere that he can show up and not have to even push himself.

"I want to see the kind of players I am going to be around," he said. "A lot of kids come in and say they want to play as a freshman and that would be great. But, I want to earn it. I want to be around the best players in the country. Competition makes everyone better. That isn't just for football but for everything else in life."

Stay tuned as Scout.com follows Chase Rome's recruitment as it is only beginning to heat up.

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