Coach "J.P" a big reason for Rome's official

The visit of Oklahoma State commit Chase Rome wasn't completely unexpected. But for Husker fans seeing Rome on the sidelines before the Nebraska/Louisiana-Lafayette game was probably still a positive sign. Could this experience put Nebraska over the top to the point he would reconsider his decision to be a future Cowboy? We asked him to find out.

It wasn't like Rome was going to see anything new.

Well, it's a game, an actual game and the 300th consecutive sellout for the Huskers, the longest streak of its kind in NCAA history.

So that's new.

But for someone like Rome, the pomp and circumstance takes a back seat to what he cared about the most coming into this trip.

And, it wasn't a month's worth of planning, as Rome said that the concrete decision to make this trip didn't come until around two weeks ago. And, he really made the trip for one reason. "It was coach J.P. He's one of the big reasons why I went to Lincoln," Rome said of the Husker defensive ends coach as well as his recruiter. "It's just that we are really close, and I just wanted to come and see the game, but talk to him."

John Papuchis has been noted as being Nebraska's best recruiter or at the very least, the staff's most energetic. Rome agreed with that, as well as the fact that to listen to the second-year assistant, he sounds like an accountant. But then you watch him coach, the account disappears and "J.P." is all coach.

"Yeah, he kind of does (sound like an accountant), but you can see the difference when he's actually coaching," Rome said.

One guy who definitely didn't sound like an accountant was redshirt freshman linebacker Will Compton, who was Rome's host for the trip. As the staff often seems to like to do players get matched up with recruits who hail from their state. Rome recognized that, but saw in Compton a lot of himself. "He's a really, really nice kid, but we are really similar in that we are chill-guys, but with a mean streak," he said.

Because this was a climactic event, perhaps never to be duplicated at this level of play, Rome had to feel a bit fortunate to be there amidst the ambiance that surrounds fans considered to be the most loyal in all of college football. The tradition, the decades of winning, the national titles – all things both remembered and celebrated on this momentous occasion. Rome thought all that was great, but for everything he experienced at this game during this historical time, he experienced another right of passage for Husker fans, which he'll perhaps remember for the rest of his life.

"I got to shoot the hot dog gun. I got to shoot that, which was awesome," Rome said of a handmade-air-powered device dubbed "der weiner schlinger", which is used to launch Fairbury brand hot dogs into the stands to fans. This promotional tool, now a symbol of Fairbury Brand meats, has been letting fans propel hot dogs to other fans in the stands for years. And Chase can now say he became part of that tradition, as well.

Honestly, though, he just liked watching a hot dog travel a couple hundred feet into the air. "Yeah, it went up into the nosebleed section and a fan caught it," he said. "It was probably the best part of the entire trip."

Back to business, Rome is still an Oklahoma State commit, and while he enjoyed every aspect of the trip into Lincoln, he's still not officially changing his mind. This was, as he has said before, just a way to get to know a coach recruiting him a little better, and see just what he does. As for where it goes from here, Rome said only time will tell. "I'll just keep talking to coach J.P., and if it turns into something it does. If it doesn't, it doesn't. But it's way too early to tell right now," he said.

One other school which could be a factor along with the Huskers is Tennessee. Rome said that he really likes first-year Head Coach Lane Kiffin, who now holds the reins of the Vols. Like his relationship with Papuchis, it's one he's basically seeing how it develops and just taking it from there.

But he's still a commit to Oklahoma State.

For right now, though, it's back to the season at hand, his high school team now 3-2 on the year. For Rome's part, he's already looking at 40+ tackles and approximately five sacks. But Chase said he could actually care less about that. This is his senior year, and he's far more worried about the guys around him, and doing his own part as a leader, than he is putting up big numbers during his final season of prep ball. "I'm playing hard, of course, but I'm making sure the young guys are doing well, and everyone is playing as a team," he said.

We'll catch up with Chase down the road as this recruiting drama will probably continue. It's no drama for Rome, though. He's just doing what he thinks he needs to do. "I'm just checking things out. I don't really care what anyone thinks about whether I should or not. I'm not doing this for them," he said. "If something happens, it does. If it doesn't, it won't. But I'm going to make sure I am going to the right place for me."

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