The first thing you need to know about Missouri prep defensive end Chase Rome is that he's a commit to Oklahoma State.
Outsiders would call that a "soft verbal." Heck, most Oklahoma State fans might consider it the same. But for Rome he's simply checking out his options, which have only grown since his pledge to the Cowboys over four months ago.
"I know this is going to sound bad, but when you are recruited this much, it'd be kind of dumb not to explore all the options and make sure it's the best place for me," Rome said. "It's a pretty big decision in my life, and I need to make sure."
Oklahoma State could certainly use the athletic defensive lineman. The Cowboys were ripping opponents to shreds on offense to the tune of 487.7 yards per game, good enough for third place in the offensively heavy Big Twelve. In the pass rushing department, however, it was a different story. Their 15 sacks on the season last year placed them dead last in the conference.
At 6-3 and 290 lbs., Rome is an athletic defensive lineman who has enough versatility to be seen playing the "one-technique" on the nose, which you might see in a "3-4" defense, the "three technique", playing DT in a "4-3", or you could slide him out to the end spots on either side, playing inside, outside or wherever.
That's just part of the reason he was able to notch 77 tackles last season, four of those for sacks. Another is just his attitude. "I go for the ball. I'm aggressive out there. Not off the field, but definitely on the field," he said.
So, it's not hard to see why his commitment to OSU didn't stop schools from continuing to recruit him. And while he sees the Cowboys as a darn good spot, he's been exploring other places with perhaps other opportunities, including defending national champ, Florida.
But his most recent unofficial visit was to the heart of Big-Red Country, as Rome wanted to check out Nebraska. From the recruiting of Defensive Ends Coach John Papuchis and just what he's heard about the program, Rome thought he would head on up and give it a look.
He said it didn't disappoint.
While he was visiting with a number of other recruits, this being the last "Junior Day" for the Huskers this year, he very much had one thing on his mind. "I mostly just wanted to get together with the defensive line staff, talk a little Xs & Os and just see how I might fit in," he said. "I like talking football, and it was great talking to those guys."
One of the big attractions to Nebraska for Rome is their Head Coach, Bo Pelini. But it wasn't at Nebraska he caught this Florida-native's eye. It was when he was the Defensive Coordinator at LSU, his last year with the Tigers netting a national championship. What Pelini did with that defense, which never ranked worse than third under Pelini, was what made Rome a big LSU fan. "Their defense was awesome. That was why I was a huge LSU fan growing up. I just loved watching how they played defense," he said. "I was wondering if they were going to try and do the same thing at Nebraska, which it sounds like they want to down the line."
It's easier said than done playing defense like LSU did a couple of years ago. It doesn't hurt when you have players like future-first rounder Glen Dorsey on the defensive line. But Nebraska has one of their own this year, and according to Pelini who commented on him during the Spring, Ndamukong Suh might even be a bit better.
Rome didn't get a chance to talk to the potential preseason All-American on his trip up. But he knows about him. "I think we are a lot alike, because he's really aggressive on the field, but just like everyone else off it. I know the guy is really athletic, too," he said. "Players like that are fun to watch, because they play like I do…all the way."
When it comes to the coaches Chase said he met them all, from the Head Coach, to Coach "J.P." to the coach of the defensive interior, Carl, Bo Pelini's older brother. From all of them he felt the kind of thing he said most players like to get from a potential coach. "They are really straightforward guys. They just tell you how it is, and they aren't trying to sell you something. They're just good coaches and good people, from what I could tell," he said. "And Coach "J.P.", he's like this really quiet guy off the field, but when he gets on it, you see a whole different side. He's really passionate about the game."
All of this ultimate leads Rome to where he was before the trip, to an extent. He's still a commit to Oklahoma State, and he still has more options to explore. Amongst that group are Tennessee, UCLA, and if CAL comes through with an offer soon, which Rome feels they might, that might be yet another team to throw into the mix.
But with his desire to enroll into college early, he knows the clock is ticking.
"Yeah, it's just a big rush, it seems, but I have to see as much as I can and learn as much as I can about these places," he said. "Nebraska certainly showed me a lot, and they are definitely a great program. But I know that some programs I have already seen are also good, and maybe these others, too.
"It's tough. I know that it's just going to be tough. But I also know that I'm at a great place in Oklahoma State. I know I can't go wrong there. It's just a matter of seeing if there is anything else out there which compares or might even be better. You can't know that unless you check them all out."