ATHENS -- Perhaps the most intriguing question among the Georgia freshman class is whether Jay Rome will play this year. Rome is curious himself.
The former Valdosta star was the nation’s top recruit at tight end, according to some rankings. The problem is Georgia is already loaded at that position, what with preseason All-SEC first-teamer Orson Charles, as well as senior Aron White.
Conceivably, Rome could even be behind redshirt sophomore Arthur Lynch in the pecking order. Or Rome’s talent could be too great to keep him off the field.
“I don’t know,” head coach Mark Richt said when asked about it. “That’ll be some of the discussion we’ll have here the next few days and after the scrimmage. But he’s a very good football player. We did well getting him.”
Rome said it would be his preference to avoid a redshirt, but he wouldn’t be adverse to sitting out.
“If it’s possible for me to get on the field in any kind of way this year then I probably will do that,” Rome said. “But if I would get redshirted, it wouldn’t be a big deal, it’d just give me another year to work harder and get better.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo mentioned before practice began that they could try Rome in some hybrid-fullback sets. Rome said that hasn’t happened yet, though he is working in some double tight end sets.
If picking up the offense is a factor in seeing the field, that may work in Rome’s favor.
“I think I’m very up to speed, and I attribute that to a lot of the older guys who have been here and helped me out,” Rome said. “I really feel like I know all of the playbook, and I attribute that to Orson and Aron for taking me into the group.”
Tailbacks are walking wounded
Georgia is lucky the season opener is still three weeks away.
Projected starting tailback Richard Samuel has a strained left quad injury, the team said Friday. Star freshman Isaiah Crowell had already been shut down for the latter part of that day’s practice with a minor groin injury.
Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Ken Malcome, who himself has had a nagging groin problem, missed practice Friday with another injury.
“He’s just not feeling good,” Richt said, adding that it wasn’t a concussion.
Sophomore Brandon Harton, newly awarded a scholarship, was in a green non-contact jersey Friday, after missing most of the week with a concussion.
Wes Van Dyk was hurt, as well, with an undisclosed injury.
The only healthy scholarship tailback was Carlton Thomas, but Thomas is suspended for the first game.
Walk-ons no more
Harton, Van Dyk and six other players were awarded scholarships Thursday night. The others included Blake Sailors, a special teams standout, receiver Taylor Bradberry, linebackers Matthew DeGenova and Jason Veal, cornerback Eric Elliot and guard Josh Bodin.
Richt made the announcement at a team meeting. He called out the eight players and had them line up shoulder to shoulder in front of their teammates.
“I said something to the effect that you guys have all earned scholarships for the 2011 season,” Richt said. “The place went nuts.”
But Richt also was aware that some of the other walk-ons might have had hopes for it too.
“I told them that it was a very difficult decision and we loved them all, and I wish I could give them all a scholarship. It was kind of bittersweet.”
Georgia had the room under the NCAA limit of 85 after all the offseason attrition -- and also because it appears freshman linebacker Kent Turene will not make it this year. Turene was still awaiting word from the NCAA Clearinghouse, but Richt said last week it was “doubtful” the freshman would be on the team this year.