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Originally published Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 2:15 PM

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Jay Rome carving his own path at Valdosta

Jay Rome is the son of perhaps the biggest name to come out of one of the nation's most prestigious high school programs.

The Associated Press

VALDOSTA, Ga. —

Jay Rome is the son of perhaps the biggest name to come out of one of the nation's most prestigious high school programs.

Stan Rome, who played in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs from 1979-82, was a legend as a two-sports star at Valdosta High School. He was a fourth-round pick by the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers in 1978 before choosing the NFL.

Now Jay Rome, on The Associated Press South Region 25 list of recruits, is establishing his own impressive path. Scout.com ranks Rome as the nation's top tight end prospect.

"If you could have a poster boy, he kind of embodies everything that you would want," said first-year Valdosta coach Rance Gillespie. "He's kind of got it all. He's the complete package.

"He's one of the best blockers we have on the football team. He is 6-foot-5 and 252 pounds, so he has prototypical size. He can run. He's athletic. He's a great basketball player. Jay has just got a lot of things going for him."

Like his father, Rome wears No. 11 for the Wildcats. Many expect Jay also will follow his father's path to Clemson. He also is considering Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

"He's been able to benefit also from some things I went through in some pretty intense recruiting," said Stan Rome. "It has been sort of a roller coaster for him."

Stan Rome said his son initially was ready to commit "two or three different times." Now he says his son has identified three or four schools.

"We're basically going to wait and see what happens this fall with these schools. We'll make official visits and check out the academics and check out the personnel and depth charts," Stan Rome said.

Jay Rome had 32 catches as a junior. Gillespie is expected to put a stronger emphasis on the passing game in his first season as coach.

Gillespie said Jay Rome hasn't felt the pressure to match his father's standards.

"Stan is one of the best players to come through this program, no doubt about it," Gillespie said. "He is a legendary figure in Valdosta. Everyone knows who Stan is. He went on to play in the NFL. It's just the way that Jay has been raised that this is not an expectation. They just expect him to be his best. Jay has done a good job of making his own name."

Stan Rome said he has advised Jay to be his own person and find his own way.

"One of the things that we worked on a lot was for him to remain humble and not try to live up to the things I did but to make his own path," said Stan Rome. "He has embraced that really, really well."

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