Chase Rome, the 6-foot-3, 285-pound three-star defensive lineman from Rock Bridge High School in Columbia, Mo., is currently in Gainesville where he’s unofficially visiting the Florida Gators.
“I’m leaving on Wednesday (March 25),” Rome said. “It’s a great town. I love being in Gainesville.”
Being in Florida is somewhat of a homecoming for Rome, who is originally from the Sunshine State. “I was born in central Florida and lived in southern Florida for most of my life,” he said. “I’ve only lived in Missouri for the past three years.”
Rome says the Gators are his top choice and that they now lead solidly over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Missouri and South Carolina. All of his favorites have offered as well as Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa and Wisconsin.
“I love the SEC,” said Scout.com’s No. 17 defensive tackle. “I also really like the fans. They get crazy!”
But Rome says the thing that stands out the most about the Gators is their coaching staff. “I love the coaches at Florida,” he said.
“They are dynamite,” Rome said. “They care about their players and want them to be the very best they can be. They’re the kind of coaches that will get hair on your chest.”
He is being recruited by Gators defensive line coach Dan McCarney. “He said that they would rotate me in and that I’d have a chance to play. They see me at defensive end right now until I get bigger.”
“Florida is my clear leader right now,” Rome said.
“But I still want to go to Oklahoma again and compare everything,” he said. “I’m loving Florida, but I don’t want to give a percentage (lead) right now because I’m in Gainesville and probably just on that high you get when you visit a school.”
To top it all off he says that the Gators are also recruiting him the hardest. “It’s just more personal with them,” he said. “They don’t just send me the bulk stuff everyone else gets.”
Rome has been quite busy this year as he’s already attended junior days at Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri.
“I love the tradition at Oklahoma,” he said. “It would be great to be part of something bigger and something historic like that. I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to go to a program with tradition.”
Rome says he also likes the type of players that the Sooners regularly sign. “They have hard-nosed, no-quit kind of guys,” he said. “They also seem to always have good character kids.”
Although the Gators and the Sooners are in good positions, Rome hasn’t ruled out in-state favorite Missouri. “They are so close I could walk to the campus,” he said. “I really like their coaches too. They bring out the best in their players and I like their hands on style.
“Next season will be interesting for Mizzou,” Rome said. “They need to replace (quarterback) Chase Daniel but they’ve been recruiting well and I think they’ll be fine. I think Mizzou will be a top team for a while now.”
Rome followed Miami as a youngster, but says the ‘Canes are not recruiting him.
“I really just want to go where there is good competition,” he said. “I want to play for a team that always has a good strength of schedule and where they have the best players. I don’t care about things like weather or environment. I’m there for football and school – that’s it.”
Rome says he will be graduating in December and expects to make an early commitment. “I’d like to do it before the season starts,” he said. “I may take a visit or two early on, but I won’t be waiting too long.”
He finished his junior season with 77 tackles, four sacks and four fumbles recovered.
“I’m fast and hard-nosed,” Rome said. “I’m enthusiastic and that carries over to the team. I fire everyone up. I play in-your-face-type football and my coach says I have a ‘how dare you try to block me?’ mentality.”
Rome says he can bench press 380-pounds, squat 535 and claims a 32-inch vertical jump. “I really just want to improve my speed and continue getting stronger,” he said. “I’m also working on my footwork too.”
He’s planning on majoring in sports management or advertising and reports a 3.0 core GPA and 23 ACT.