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.
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
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.
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
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."
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.
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."