News came late Sunday night that former Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive lineman Chase Rome would be transferring to the Memphis Tigers. Memphis starting quarterback Jacob Karam confirmed it with his tweet that same night.
Tiger Nation we got a great addition to our family today. Chase Rome, DL transfer from Nebraska! Turn up!
— Jacob Karam (@jacob_karam) July 22, 2013
To say the least, the news is huge for a Tigers team that is working towards respectability again. Rome fell out of the good graces of head coach Bo Pelini and his staff after he did not take kindly to being benched at the start of 2012, initially leaving the team. He came back a week later and worked his way back into the rotation, even starting the final two games against Wisconsin and the Capital One Bowl. However, Rome was ultimately unhappy with his role and opted to transfer.
Rome will be a redshirt junior in 2013 and is currently on track to graduate at the end of the summer, which would allow him to play immediately and have two years of eligibility for the Tigers. He is a former four-star recruit according to Rivals.com, and at 6-foot-3, 290 pounds, Rome is a load to handle for offensive linemen. He and his dad expressed their excitement for the new chapter, and particularly, Rome said he was very impressed by the passion head coach Justin Fuente had instilled in the Memphis players and fans in such a short time.
So, what does this mean for the Memphis defense? Well, it makes the defensive line, which was already the primary strength of the unit, perhaps one of the best in the AAC. Rome joins a talented group of returnees for the Tigers defensive line, including nose tackles Terry Redden and Johnnie Farms, and preliminary Lombardi Award watch list defensive end Martin Ifedi, who led the team in 2012 with 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Rome may not start at first, as he will have to get adjusted to the scheme and all the changes. But he will have a great opportunity to be a big contributor and possibly even snag a starting spot somewhere down the line.
He bolsters a unit that ranked No.32 in NCAA football in rushing yards allowed per game at 138.0. He also has ties to Memphis defensive coordinator Barry Odom. Odom was the head coach at Rock Bridge High School in Missouri in the early 2000s where Rome played after he left for the college ranks. Rome said he had always heard good things about Odom, so that figured to be a factor in his decision.
What makes this even more sweet for the Tigers is that Rome could have transferred anywhere in the country, including Arkansas, Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and South Carolina, teams that offered him out of high school. Instead, he chose the Tigers, citing the changing culture and excitement around the program. Rome is a huge get for Memphis and could provide a selling point for Fuente and his staff with future recruits.