ACC: Bobby Rome

Four former Tar Heels sign as free agents

April, 28, 2010
4/28/10
10:30
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Former UNC offensive tackle Kyle Jolly signed a free-agent contract with Pittsburgh, linebacker Kennedy Tinsley with St. Louis and defensive tackle Aleric Mullins and fullback Bobby Rome with Green Bay.

  • Jolly made 38 straight starts. He graded out at 78 percent and had 31 knockdown blocks last year.
  • Tinsley was one of Carolina's top special-teams players in 2009 and saw significant time at linebacker. He had 39 tackles last season and was the special teams captain.
  • Mullins decided to forgo his final year and graduate early in 2009. He finished the season with 15 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for losses, and had four quarterback pressures. Mullins played in all 26 games over the past two seasons and made five starts in 2007.
  • Rome came to Carolina as a quarterback, but moved to fullback where he was an outstanding blocker for four seasons. He caught 34 passes for 356 yards and one touchdown in his career.

UNC's injuries a factor in offensive ineptitude

October, 9, 2009
10/09/09
10:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


What’s wrong with North Carolina’s offense? The Tar Heels are ranked 113th in the nation in total offense (280 yards per game), 103rd in rushing offense (100 ypg), and 107th in scoring offense (18.6 points per game).

Offensive coordinator John Shoop was kind enough to talk to me about it this week -- I always respect coaches who talk to the media when things aren’t going well. But before you read the Q&A, keep in mind these few facts:
  • North Carolina has lost 18 offensive starts due to injury.
  • On the offensive line, the Tar Heels currently have just two players who had any experience before this year (Kyle Jolly, Alan Pelc). The other eight (three starters and five backups) had essentially no playing experience before this season.
  • Carolina came into the season with questions primarily at offensive line and wide receiver and those are the two areas hit the hardest by injuries, along with tight end, which has hurt their receiving and blocking.
  • UNC has had no injuries on defense, with the exception of backup safety Matt Merletti.

Against Georgia Southern, the Tar Heels could be missing six players who started the first game of the season against The Citadel (Jolly, Jonathan Cooper, Lowell Dyer, Zack Pianalto, Bobby Rome, and Joshua Adams).

Shoop won’t use the injuries as an excuse, but I’m not sure everyone realized just how much of an impact they’ve had. Stay tuned for Shoop’s take on the offense.

Update on UNC's Pianalto

September, 14, 2009
9/14/09
6:59
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


UNC tight end Zack Pianalto's MRI on Monday confirmed the original diagnosis, and Pianalto has suffered a subtalar dislocation of his right foot in UNC’s 12-10 victory at Connecticut Saturday afternoon. It's too early to tell how long Pianalto will be out, or if he'll play this weekend against East Carolina.

So basically, we don't know much more than we did on Saturday.

Pianalto was injured after he scored the game-tying touchdown with 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter. After scoring, he jumped into the air and landed awkwardly on a defender’s foot.

The good news for the Heels is that fullback Bobby Rome rejoined the team, and attended the meetings on Sunday night. No other players have been infected so far with the swine flu-like symptoms.

UNC will take its bizarre win, strong defensive performance

September, 14, 2009
9/14/09
3:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


North Carolina safety Deunta Williams had one word to describe it -- crazy.

It’s a fitting adjective to use when you only score 12 points -- all in the fourth quarter -- and still manage to win, but that’s exactly what happened to the Tar Heels on Saturday in a 12-10 win at Connecticut.

Thanks to a holding call in the end zone with 1:32 left in the game, UNC earned a safety and escaped with the win. Just how rare of a comeback victory was it? It was the fewest points in a win under Butch Davis and since a 7-5 victory over Virginia in 2005.

“It was a crazy game,” Williams said. “I think the major thing about it was there was no surrender, no back down from anybody on our team. That speaks to guys’ character, their willingness to get gritty, dig in, look in the mirror and find that part of you that’s a warrior. A lot of guys did that and we came up with the W. It was ugly, but some games are going to be like that, and I will definitely take it.”

Considering the Tar Heels were missing three starters on offense, including center Lowell Dyer, who suffered a shoulder injury earlier in the week during practice, fullback Bobby Rome, who stayed home with swine flu-like symptoms, and offensive guard Jonathan Cooper (ankle), it’s no wonder they struggled to move the ball. They were missing key blockers, and without two of their starters up front, UNC allowed six sacks. They never allowed more than four in a game last year, and that came against Virginia Tech.

Enter UNC’s standout defense, which has allowed just 16 points over its first two games of the season for its lowest total since surrendering 10 points over the first two games in 1996.

The plan is to keep it up.

“We have a chance to do some good things on defense,” said Williams, who has two interceptions and two pass breakups this season. “Like I’ve told a lot of people, they’ve been talking about the potential this defense has for a very long time. The thing I drove home to the defense is, I’m tired of hearing about potential. We need to put this stuff on the stat line, on the sheets. When people see that, they can see we’re dominating every game, and it has to be about consistency, it’s not one or two games during the season. We have to do it every single game. I think that guys are really buying into that and it’s sinking in for a lot of players.

“It’s kind of hard to get the young guys going sometimes because they’re just so thrilled to be out there on the field, but it’s really bigger than that, especially with this game coming up vs. ECU. I’ve been preaching this whole time, it’s personal. It’s nothing against them, but it’s a personal game for a lot of guys on this team, and there are going to be a lot of guys going hard out there. My message to them is you’ve got to match my intensity. I’m going all out.”

He’s got some added motivation, being a native of Jacksonville, N.C. When Williams was little, his aunt lived near ECU’s campus so they would walk there, and Williams would play at the track and the basketball court.

“It’s personal,” he said. “I really want guys to understand that, but these guys (the Pirates), they’re a great group of guys, they present challenges that we’re going to have to meet again this week through the passing game, and the run game as well.”

What we learned in the ACC: Week 2

September, 13, 2009
9/13/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich


It wasn't a very revealing week in the ACC, but the conference did pick up some wins. Here are a few things we can gather from the Week 2 performances:

1. Georgia Tech’s offense can be defended. Clemson had outgained Georgia Tech 319-91 in total yards into the fourth quarter since falling behind 24-0. B-back Jonathan Dwyer -- the ACC’s reigning player of the year -- was held to just 66 yards on 18 carries. After the first quarter, the Tigers committed to stopping the option, and Georgia Tech was unable to score a touchdown for the rest of the game.

2. The ACC is resilient. It wasn’t always pretty (more like Ugly Betty), but the ACC did what it had to do to bounce back from last week’s losses. Wake Forest responded from its loss to Baylor against a tough Stanford team, Duke rebounded from its loss to Richmond on the road against Army, Maryland was able to stave off James Madison after its loss to Cal, and both Virginia Tech and NC State took out its aggression from Week 1 losses to the SEC and beat up on Marshall and Murray State, respectively. Florida State also got a win after losing to Miami.

3. Clemson looks like a true threat in the Atlantic Division. Despite its loss to Georgia Tech, the Tigers had no shame in their second-half performance on Thursday night, as they came back from a 24-point deficit to lead 27-24 lead in the fourth quarter. The coaching staff made a comeback, along with the team, and did a better job of getting the ball to their playmakers than their predecessors did. Unlike last year in Atlanta when the Tigers were embarrassed by Alabama, this team didn’t quit on coach Dabo Swinney. Clemson’s performance, coupled with Florida State’s poor play, leaves the door wide open for the Tigers.

4. UNC desperately needs to keep its blockers healthy. The Tar Heels were noticeably weaker up front without starting center Lowell Dyer (shoulder) and offensive guard Jonathan Cooper (ankle), and they missed the blocking of fullback Bobby Rome, who stayed home with H1N1 symptoms. They weren’t able to get anything going on the ground and finished with just 35 rushing yards. T.J. Yates was sacked six times and UNC was held scoreless with just 134 yards of total offense through three quarters.

5. Duke has a winning backup quarterback. For all of the questions and inexperience surrounding backup quarterbacks in the ACC this year, look no further than Durham for a dependable No. 2. In his first collegiate action, Sean Renfree came off the bench in the second half to complete 7 of 8 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns to lead Duke to a come-from-behind 35-19 win over Army. With Duke trailing 10-7 midway through the third period, Renfree threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Brett Huffman on his first collegiate pass to give the Blue Devils the lead -- their first of the 2009 season. On Duke's next possession, Renfree engineered a nine-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard touchdown to Donovan Varner for a 21-13 lead early in the final period.

Two UNC players out with flu-like symptoms

September, 11, 2009
9/11/09
12:19
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


UNC starting fullback Bobby Rome and reserve defensive tackle Jordan Nix have tested positive for probable H1N1 influenza, more commonly known as the swine flu, the university announced on Friday.

They did not practice this week and will not be traveling to Connecticut for Saturday’s game. Obviously Rome's blocking will be missed, and this will be a situation UNC will monitor closely. Duke certainly wasn't able to contain it to two players. They had about 30 guys and a few coaches infected this summer.

ACC injury reports

September, 11, 2009
9/11/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich


There are some notable names that will/could be missing this weekend, including Bobby Rome, Lowell Dyer, Greg Boone, Stephan Virgil, Bruce Campbell, Jameel Sewell, Jamelle Eugene, Vic Hall and Jake Vermiglio. Here are the full reports that came in throughout the league from each school's sports information department:

BOSTON COLLEGE
  • LB Will Thompson (shoulder) -- OUT
  • LB Mike McLaughlin (Achilles) -- OUT
  • FB James McCluskey (Achilles) -- OUT
  • WR Ifeanyi Momah (knee) -- OUT
  • DT Kaleb Ramsey (ankle) -- PROBABLE
DUKE
  • RB Kyle Griswould (leg) -- OUT
  • CB Randez James (hand) -- OUT
  • S Anthony Young--Wiseman (knee) -- OUT FOR SEASON
FLORIDA STATE

OUT
  • OT Antwane Greenlee (knee)
  • DT Justin Mincey (knee)
  • OT John Prior (knee)
  • LB Vince Williams (back)
MARYLAND

Out
Questionable:
NC STATE

OUT FOR SEASON
OUT
  • Donald Bowens, WR – knee
  • Ryan Cheek, LB -- hip
  • Wayne Crawford, C -- foot
  • Jamelle Eugene, HB -- knee
  • DeAndre Morgan, CB – ankle
  • Jeff Rieskamp, DE -- hip
  • Jake Vermiglio, OT – lower leg
  • Javon Walker, S -- knee
Depth chart changes due to injuries: Julian Williams will move into Vermiglio's spot at tackle and Andy Barbee will start at guard. Henry Lawson will be the backup at center. James Washington will be the second-team halfback.

UNC

Out (Season)
  • Carl Gaskins OL -- Knee
  • Matt Merletti S -- Knee
Out (Game)
Questionable
  • Jonathan Cooper OG -- Ankle
  • Lowell Dyer C -- Shoulder
  • Jordan Nix DT -- Illness
  • Bobby Rome FB -- Illness
  • Terry Shankle DB -- Illness
VIRGINIA

Out
Doubtful
  • Vic Hall (hip)
  • Dontrelle Inman (hand)
  • Lamar Milstead (ankle)
  • Bill Schautz (knee)
Probable
VIRGINIA TECH
  • Greg Boone (SC joint sprain) -- doubtful
  • Stephan Virgil (knee) -- doubtful

UNC's Draughn could be one of several 1,000-yard rushers

August, 4, 2009
8/04/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Miami coach Randy Shannon isn't the only coach in the ACC looking for a little bit of separation in a crowded backfield. North Carolina coach Butch Davis also said he is ready for "one marquee guy" who gets the bulk of the carries to take over at running back, and said Shaun Draughn "can be that guy."

Davis made sure he praised the job Ryan Houston has done, but said that he expects Draughn to do a much better job of protecting the football this fall. Draughn moved from safety to tailback in preseason camp last year and became the starter midway through the season. Now that he's had an entire offseason to prepare at the position, the expectations are higher.

"He went through no spring practice, no drills, no fundamentals, all the things you need to spend time working on," Davis said. "He got thrust into the role, and very easily he could rush for almost 1,000 yards in about three quarters of the season."

Draughn will have a fullback who wants to block for a 1,000-yard rusher this fall in Bobby Rome, and Draughn came pretty close last year. He led the Tar Heels in rushing with 866 yards and three touchdowns on 198 carries. It was the highest rushing total for a UNC player since Jonathan Linton had 1,004 yards in 1997. Draughn also became the first Tar Heel with three 100-yard games in a season since Ronnie McGill in 2006.

Whether Draughn lives up to Davis' expectations will depend heavily upon how quickly the offensive line comes together. The Tar Heels have to plug holes at right tackle and left guard, and are in need of depth, as Davis wants a rotation of nine or 10 players in a game. He could be forced to play a few incoming freshmen to make that happen.

If everything comes together up front, though, Draughn could be one of a handful of 1,000-yard rushers in the ACC. After all, it's already got three returning from 2008 in Jonathan Dwyer, Darren Evans and Da'Rel Scott.

UNC's Rome is burning

July, 13, 2009
7/13/09
4:16
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

North Carolina senior Bobby Rome remembered his first spring game as a UNC fullback in 2007 when he "missed a block really, really bad."

Rome, who came to UNC as a quarterback, made his way to the sideline where he caught the wrath of coach Butch Davis -- an imposing figure even when he's smiling.

"Coach Davis is screaming at me, 'Be a man, son! Be a man!'" Rome said. "He was like, 'Son, you've got so much potential you could be one of the best to play the position and yet you don't want to apply yourself.'"

 
  Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
  Bobby Rome's goal for 2009: block for a 1,000-yard rusher.

The message still resonates with him.

Rome, who passed for 1,726 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior at Granby High in Virginia, has traded in his dreams of becoming the next Michael Vick for the new goal of blocking for a 1,000-yard UNC rusher. He has bulked up and become a bruising fullback who has the potential to be one of the best in the ACC this fall. He caught eight passes for 65 yards last year, but his most memorable moment to fans was probably his 44-yard halfback pass to Brooks Foster against Maryland.

"He's a hard worker," said quarterback T.J. Yates. "He's done everything he can to get on the field. He's a big guy, he's strong, he's very, very passionate about the game. He'll do absolutely anything to get on the field and get the ball. Whenever he does he always makes a play. He's always working hard, he's always out there whenever he can. There's not much for fullbacks to do at [organized training activities] but whenever he's out there, he'll do as much as he can. He's always grabbing a quarterback to have him throw routes, or working on handoffs or blocking stuff with the backs."

Rome always remembers where he came from -- "the 757." It's the Norfolk, Va., area code that was shared by Ronald Curry and Michael Vick, too. Rome had dreams of following in their footsteps, as he was a four-year starter at quarterback in high school and one of the area's all-time leading passers.

"We had some pretty big names at quarterback, and I was one of the all-time leading passers, so coming here, I kind of figured I could make the move, come right in and play," Rome said. "As time went on, I [saw] I could actually help the team in another position. I just wanted to take advantage of my athletic abilities so I decided to make the move to tailback."

Butch Davis arrived with other plans, and Rome was made a fullback. It was a move he said he had to "grow to love" but is now comfortable with.

"At first I started off really slow, knowing I haven't blocked anybody before in my life," said Rome, who played in all 13 games last year and started five. "Going against 250-pound linebackers was just something crazy to adjust to. I had to bulk up a little, get stronger in the weight room. It made me tougher in the end."

Yates wasn't kidding, though -- Rome will do whatever he can to get on the field, especially if it means throwing the ball. In 2007 he threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Tate.

"Every year I go to coach Shoop, and it's like, We've got to put something in,'" he said, laughing. "You've got to let me throw the ball at least once. It worked out. I'm 2-for-2, one touchdown pass. I thought I could've had one last year, but the receiver fell down."

Rome has a specific goal for himself this fall, and it's to block for a 1,000-yard rusher. That could be possible with Shaun Draughn in the backfield. Draughn's 866 rushing yards last year was the highest rushing total for a Tar Heel since Jonathan Linton had 1,004 yards in 1997.

Rome would like to change that.

"We haven't had one in a long time here and I want to be the fullback that led the way for a 1,000-yard back," he said. "I feel like I've got the ability to be the best fullback in the country and I want to show everybody that, also. ... I just want to take my game to a whole other level."

Credit Davis for that inspiration.

UNC injury report

September, 19, 2008
9/19/08
3:20
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

PROBABLE

Cooter Arnold, WR, ankle

Charles Brown, DB, ankle

Bobby Rome, RB, ankle

LeCount Fantroy, DB, hand

QUESTIONABLE

Linwan Euwell, LB, thigh

Vince Jacobs, DL, abdomen

Brett Long, WR, thigh

Chase Rice, LB, wrist,

Scott Mincey, OL, ankle

DOUBTFUL

Darius Massenburg, DL, knee

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