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J. Bryant Steele tells the heartwarming story of saving a man from a life-changing mistake in hopes of saving lives in the future.


Facebook is not faceless and Instagram can be insensitive, so Holly Lynch advises us to carefully consider our conversations with friends in public places.


Roman native and now punter for the Dallas Cowboys, Chris Jones, tells us what it takes to be a pro, on and off the field.


Grab your grills and coolers but don’t forget this this year’s SEC Preview, courtesy of Northwest Georgia’s College Football Fanatic, Ian Griffin.


Hardy Realty offers a home where the manicured landscape and old-world charm transport you to a country retreat that is minutes from Downtown Rome.


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publisher's note

oliver robbins editorial manager

I’m not worried about y’all. I’m worried about Kentucky. Yes, folks, those were words I dared utter to Ian Griffin as we sat in my car discussing our teams’ chances for victory in the 2014 SEC field. Anyone who’s been within shouting distance of Mr. Griffin on a Saturday in the fall knows he’s a Gator to the bone, and I am a UGA fanatic. You could probably imagine the punch in the gut Ian felt as I laid this prediction on thick, without so much as a stutter. Florida had been shaky all year, heading into the match up with three straight losses, and Kentucky was looking like a formidable foe. With Georgia entering the contest ranked in the top 10 and rumors of Muschamp getting the axe, I was confident in writing off the Gators. Nick Chubb was running through tackles like water, and the Georgia defense had been solid. What could go wrong, right? Everything, that’s what went wrong. Florida benched their turnover-prone starting quarterback and I began licking my chops. Then, they proceeded to shove the UGA defensive line around like limping puppies and pounded run after run down our throats. Florida, up 31-7 by the beginning of the fourth quarter, took our running game completely out of the picture as the Dawgs sputtered on offense. After a few garbage-time scores by my Dawgs, the contest ended at 38-20. Monday morning was going to be rough. All I could think about was attempting to swallow my bold analysis of the longtime yearly rivalry. It would be like choking down a peanut butter and saltine sandwich without so much as a juice box to wash it down. Ian still likes to give me a corner whenever the topic of college football arises. He is a nice guy, though. He at least cuts the crust off the bread. Yum. This year, there will be conversations in the office, at the bar or after Sunday service among loyal SEC fans about the match ups we crave. Will the Tide roll over the Tigers in the Iorn Bowl or will the Vols send a butt-whoopin’ down to the Dawgs from Rocky Top? In the SEC, I’ve learned that it’s best to make predictions with care and respect. On any given Saturday, you too could treat yourself to a delicious meal of shame. One thing is for certain, though. We fight hard in the SEC, and that’s why I think there is no other conference I’d rather lose in. Let the trash talk cautiously fly and enjoy the season.

Oliver Robbins, Editorial Manager


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WRITERS J. Bryant Steele, Oliver Robbins, Erin deMesquita, Holly Lynch Corinna Underwood, Tripp Durden, Greg Howard, Cecil Disharoon, Lauren Jones-Hillman EXECUTIVE PHOTOGRAPHERS Derek Bell. MFA Cameron Flaisch PHOTOGRAPHERS Caleb Timmerman Ellie Borromeo AD SALES & CLIENT RELATIONS Chris Forino AD DESIGN Laura Allshouse Ellie Borromeo PUBLISHER V3 Publications, LLC CONTACT One West Fourth Avenue Rome, Ga. 30161 Office Phone 706.235.0748 v3publications@gmail.com CREATOR Neal Howard


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Cents&Sensibility with J. Bryant Steele


ur national conversation over who can or should own guns has turned up in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre on June 12 and the July 7 assassination of five police officers in Dallas (which came in the swift aftermath of two killings of black males by police officers, first in Louisiana, then in Minnesota). I can tell you without hesitation about one man who definitely shouldn’t have owned a gun. His name was George. George was a bricklayer, and he was an excellent one – when he was sober.


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George worked for my father, a general contractor, and perhaps to teach me humility rather than a trade, my father gave me the chore, when I was quite young, of mixing mortar and hauling bricks for George to lay in unmatched symmetry. For me, it was boring, backbreaking grunt work. I don’t know why my father employed George. Maybe it was because he was compassionate (no other white contractor was going to employ George); or maybe it was because George was sublime at his craft (again, when he was sober). Or maybe it was because George worked cheap.

George often didn’t show up on Monday mornings, and that would throw the start of the work week into a scramble. Things reached a point that George couldn’t drive. I don’t remember why – maybe his truck was beyond repair, or maybe his license was revoked. But I had just turned 16 and could drive, so – in addition to the grunt work – it was now my task to arise earlier in the mornings and go pick up George, throw his tools into Daddy’s truck bed, and drive him to the job site. One Monday when I did that, George was reeling, but maybe not as much as on most Mondays. When he got into the truck, he had a grease-stained brown paper bag. That wasn’t unusual, since we often ate slimy, canned sausage and soda crackers for lunch George shoved the paper bag under the bench seat. I didn’t think anything about it. I

drove maybe one mile until we passed a filling station, and George yelled for me to pull over. I did. “That’s (so-and-so). He owes me.” George reached under the seat, grabbed the brown paper bag and pulled out a pistol. George was out of the truck with a nimbleness I didn’t expect and rolling down a sidewalk that wasn’t awake yet, except for that filling station. I scrambled out of the truck and ran to the sidewalk, screaming his name. As I narrowed the distance, I slowed my pace and raised my voice. “George, don’t do it.” I said it over and over. I sprinkled in words such as, “They’ll lock you up forever.” (George and jail were well-acquainted.) George was waving the pistol, aiming at nothing and at everything, but I was aware his finger was on the trigger. When we were close enough that I could smell the stink of last night’s moonshine, I said, “Give me the gun.” George lowered the pistol. I grasped the barrel with my right hand, keeping it pointed toward the sidewalk. With my left hand, I coaxed the gun out of his grasp. Oddly, I hadn’t felt scared until then. Adrenalin is a finicky master. I told George to get in the truck, and I took him back to what passed for his home. I drove to the job site and told my father only that George wouldn’t be working that day. It was a Monday, after all, so my father didn’t ask for details. Later in the week, George, sober, paused from laying bricks, locked eyes, and quietly thanked me for saving him from a grave mistake. I went off to college, but I remember times while at my parents’ house during school breaks, the phone would ring in the in the

middle of the night, and Daddy would drive off to get George out of jail. Well after graduation, well into my career at a keyboard, far removed from brick and mortar, I happened upon George at a construction site. His eyes were clear, not bloodshot. His speech wasn’t slurred. Daddy told me George had finally kicked the booze. That’s a true story, both bizarre and, in its way, sweet. But it’s not a solution to our gun problem in America. I could tell that story to every Second Amendment fanatic I know and expect consensus that George – a gifted, black drunk – shouldn’t have owned a “Saturday night special.” But if I advocated that no civilian, especially one who’s been on a terrorist watch list, should own a military assault rifle, I’d find myself in an argument, that, frankly, I am tired of. We are killing each other at a pace that challenges our complete attention. I have made this point before: I own two guns. I don’t worry that anyone is going to take them away. I will pass them on to my son, who isn’t a felon, isn’t on a terrorist watch list, isn’t hot-tempered, and who is versed in weapons safety. With just an iota of common sense, we could make less commonplace tragedies like Orlando and Dallas – and Aurora, Sandy Hook, San Bernadino, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Charleston, Boston… So why can’t we get there?


Britain is exiting the European Union. Why

should we care? Sure, the stock market took an initial hit after the vote because Wall Street usually reacts negatively to change. Everything will be all right. The nations and the economies that are the overlords of you and me are too interdependent to screw things up for all of us in the long run. Granted, “Brexit” will be big drama, a long, messy divorce. Britain’s prime minister didn’t want to deal with it, so he up and quit. I’m quitting, too. Quitting the way I have shaved all of my life. After months of online ad interruptions, I decided to join a “shave club.” I won’t be hooking up with fellow shavers. I’ll just be getting razor blades in my mailbox every couple of months, at a price that appears to be a lot less than what I now pay at a discount store. The reason it took so long for me to join a shave club is that I am suspicious of so-called deals and bargains. But I did a little research, read the fine print, opted out of the extras, and will be shaving at less cost by the time you read this. My only remaining concern is that, in a “welcome” email after I signed up, the shave club tried to reassure me with these words: “We know shaving can be complicated.” No. Nuclear physics is complicated. Soren Kierkegaard is complicated. Women are complicated. Shaving is simple. And now it costs less. V  VV

J. Bryant Steele has won awards for business reporting, feature writing and opinion columns, and is based in Rome. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.

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“I COULDN’T TALK. MY THOUGHTS WERE JUMBLED.” For my health, I choose Redmond.


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Political Politeness

Trends& Traditions with Holly Lynch


s you read in this column earlier this year, a leap year brings with it the excitement of an extra day, the Olympic Games and a presidential election. I love a leap year for all those reasons. Sadly, however, I feel I’ve spent the equivalent of an extra day already this year listening to, and reading, ridiculous political arguments and watching normally solid relationships deteriorate. Growing up, I was always told that polite conversation did not include the topics of religion, politics or money. I would still venture to say that those three topics should generally be considered private, if nothing else. Private topics, by definition, should stay private and be shared only with the people in your

“circle of trust.” Of course, that’s not how it works anymore. Through the anonymous veil of social media, all topics are fair game. I’ve seen commentary on every topic, including sex, restroom usage, politics, money, religion, and just about everything in between. We believe (incorrectly) that a post is temporary and faceless because we’re doing it from the privacy of our phones and laptops. Topics my grandmother (and even my parents) would refrain from discussing are posted and shared in public. While I appreciate my First Amendment right to discuss any topic, it seems many have forgotten that the flip side to expressing one’s opinion is letting to the opposing side have the same opportunity. To fully respect the right of free speech, then everyone must also respect the people who oppose their opinions. I’m not asking you to understand or accept an opposing viewpoint, but simply to respect the PERSON who expresses it. So, before engaging in political conversation for the next few months (and social media is a conversation as long as you allow comments, likes and feedback), consider a few key points: What is the end result of what you’re about to say? Are you looking for information, do you want to change someone’s opinion or are you simply venting your own frustration? If you consider your own motivation, you may just decide that the commentary you’re about to embark on isn’t appropriate at all (I call it “type and delete”). Make sure you know your own mind and have some facts ready to back up your thinking. There are a lot of “news” sites available, but make sure to check sources yourself. Do not believe everything you read or hear, especially if it was a sponsored story on Twitter or Facebook. Just because your best friend reposted a story does not make it true. Just because a “news” agency reports a story does not make it true. Let’s all take a lesson from Journalism 101 (which so many journalists appear to have skipped) – check the facts and then double check your facts. At the end of the day, you have to decide what you want to believe is true and then decide how forthright you want to be in sharing those opinions. Again, consider what can be gained from the conversation. If you are only wanting to vent, it’s best to keep that venting to your private circle. If you want to gain information, make that clear so you are engaging those who want to teach. If you want to persuade others to switch to your opinion, be prepared for opposition and be respectful. Which leads me to my next point: Stop calling each other names. If you post something political and someone disagrees with you, do

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not suddenly become a kindergartener again and stick out your tongue and call the other person stupid. If you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to argue intelligently. Even if the candidates themselves call each other names, we the voting populace must show more class. Maybe when we can respect each other, even when we don’t respect the opinions of others, we can generate a better cast of candidates to choose from. A true statesman (or woman!) might emerge from this mess of a political cycle. Perhaps that might be the lesson, the take away, from this (for lack of a better word) interesting season. Keep in mind that many people do not want to discuss politics. I am one of them. I have opinions (everyone does!). But, I choose to share them with people who I know will respect me, even when they disagree with my thinking. A political statement on social media has very little room to create meaningful discourse and often creates unsophisticated chaos. If you choose to post your political opinions in hopes of swaying others to your “side,” just know that you will not win over every one of your friends. You may even alienate some. You can like a person with whom you strongly disagree. Trust me on this – every one of your



friends does not agree with you on every thought and opinion you have. But your real friends will respect you as a person anyway. Lastly, make sure that you have an exit strategy if you’re pulled into a conversation you don’t want to be involved in. Agreeing to disagree is a trite response, but if you genuinely do not want to be engaged in a conversation where you disagree on an issue, the response is at least truthful. And if someone says that phrase to you, then it’s time to change the subject. By the end of this leap year, we will have new elected officials. Whether your candidate wins or not, remember to be either a gracious winner or a gracious loser. The day after the election, life will go on and you will want your circle of trust to be complete. After all, we get to do this again in four years. V  VV

Holly Lynch is the owner of The Season Events, a full service catering, event planning and design company located at 300 Glenn Milner Blvd. in Rome. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.

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Chris Jones didn’t get the memo that playing football at a small college, and even smaller high school, would stop him for reaching his goals. As a youngster at Coosa High School, he always wanted to punt in the NFL. With the help and encouragement of his parents, Mike and Teresa Jones, Jones would find himself at Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tennessee. Still, the small southern learning institution did not deter his bigger dreams. As a starter for all four years of college and All-SAC performer, he put everything he had into his craft, eventually leading to him being signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 and moved to the practice squad behind one of the league’s leading punters, Mat McBriar. In keeping with his influences early in his career, he never quit. After injury sidelined McBriar, Jones was ready to fill the spot. From there, he’s never looked back. Although football has always been important to Jones, he tells us what really makes his motor turn. As anyone from this corner of the state can imagine, it is all about family. Soon, he and his wife Sara will welcome a daughter, and he promises to set a new goal of raising his family with the same passion he puts in daily between the lines.

Interview By Oliver Robbins photos Jeremiah Jhass, Dallas Cowboy’s Photographer


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V3: Can you explain the feeling you had when you got the news that you were going to be signed with the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent? CJ: It’s hard to put in to words. I was in shock almost, with mixed emotions all around. Surprised, blessed, thankful and just an overflow of emotions came over me. All the work I had put in up to this point was gone, and I had to start all over and build from this point. Making a name for myself, getting on the team and making it through camp was a blessing, no question. But it was an overwhelming flow of many emotions. V3: What were some of the habits that you formed early on so that you would be able to perform at the professional level, or that would ultimately lead to you getting signed to a professional football team? CJ: I really think it started when I was young. Both my mom and dad were a really great support system. When I would show interest in anything and if I told them I wanted to do it they would say, “Okay, you are going to stick with it for a year, or the season.” Whatever I decided to do, they made me stick with it

and put in the effort, time, energy and focus. They taught me how to work to be good at it. Football was just one of those things that I felt like I didn’t have to put any unwanted effort into, as far as wanting to play or the drive to be better. If I had free time as a kid, I wanted to go outside and throw, kick and watch my brother play football. I wanted to be around it constantly. So, I think having that work ethic instilled in me at an early age prepared me for what came later and is still with me now. V3: I am assuming you started playing football was at the pee-wee level, right? CJ: My first year playing football was in third grade and I’ve played every year since then. I was actually counting it up the other day and I think this year will be my 20th football season. V3: What is like for an NFL player in preparation for and during the season? Just walk us through a day if you can. CJ: During the season, every day before practice is the same. You can hit the tub or steam room if you need to, or the training room for physical therapy needs. Then, we will have breakfast, a special teams meeting and then a team meeting. Then, I will go work out between team meetings and practice. I get my work out knocked out and then I practice. Next comes shower, then a lunch meeting. Media is usually around so we talk with them, grab some lunch, and then we watch film from practice and go over things that are important for the next game. That is pretty much your day. V3: Do you do that six days a week before playing on Sunday or Monday? How does that schedule work?

CJ: If we play on a Sunday, Monday is our off day. Tuesday, we come in for game review and go over film and lift weights. Then, we would have a team run where we go in and stride, kick your legs out, that kind of thing. We practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; walk through on Saturday; and then play again Sunday. V3: So, it is a rigorous schedule. I know a lot of young people think that if they become a pro football player they’ve got it easy for most of the year. However, it seems like you have to be dedicated year round. CJ: Oh yeah! During the season, it’s easy to get on a schedule because whether you have a Monday night, Sunday night or even a Thursday game, you know what the rest of your week is going to be in preparation coming up to the next game. So, you can alter what a normal week is and just bump everything up a day. Then, you just go from there. For me, and I think for a lot our guys, it’s just a routine. You get in a routine and stick with it. I wouldn’t say it’s a comfort thing, but it helps to have normality with a schedule that can get bumped around and changed within two or three weeks. V3: So, being a Dallas Cowboy has got to be a tremendous honor and responsibility that you have to take seriously. What would you say keeps you focused and on the straight and narrow when representing your hometown and the team you play for today? CJ: I think you said it the best. I am representing myself first and foremost, and then where I come from. Family, where I grew up, and where I planted my roots is what made

me who I am as a person and as a football player. Family, friends, teachers, coaches and different acquaintances keep me motivated to do my best and always honor the blessings I’ve been given. Out here, it’s the Cowboys. Even if you spoke with someone who doesn’t know anything about sports, they are going to know who the Cowboys are. Whether they follow football or not, they know what we represent. It’s a big responsibility all the way around, whether I look at it as representing myself and my family, or representing the team and team name. Other than that, I am always trying to better myself on the field and off the field. To be a better teammate, friend and husband is what I strive to achieve. I owe my level of accountability to the people who shaped me early on. V3: Can you give me an idea of what it feels like to run through that tunnel and onto the field at the Cowboy Stadium? Even the for first time, can you explain what that felt like? CJ: Well for me, my first time was overwhelming. Growing up playing at a AA school at Coosa and then at a division two school at Carson-Newman, where our largest home crowd was probably 5,000-6,000 people, was a tremendous change for me. To go from playing in smaller venues to playing in what I think is the best stadium that I could ever play in was crazy. There are at least 100,000 people. The crowd itself is something that makes you have to step back and think to yourself, “My goodness, this is just crazy.” Then you factor in the video board, the lights, the crowd noise, all the music, fireworks and smoke; it’s just unreal! V3: I was reading about you and saw that

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you were the second person in NFL history to kick a football and hit the massive jumbotron at Cowboy Stadium. I read that correctly, right? CJ: (Laugh) Yep, I did do that. V3: That’s got to be an awesome place to play football. I’ve never watched a game in person there but just seeing it on TV is awe inspiring. So, I imagine it has to be a unique experience being there. CJ: I feel like it is a one-of-a-kind stadium. It has all the bells and whistles that you could ever want and it is definitely something to see. V3: So, tell me this, Chris, if you weren’t a football player, what would you likely be doing with your career? What other things are you passionate about? CJ: I love doing anything outdoors. Growing up, I was always hunting or fishing, out changing oil with my dad, or working on a car or a truck. I really enjoy being outside and doing anything hands on. I guess that would be a good way to describe it. I am not a really person who likes to sit inside, even if it is 105 degrees outside. I would rather be doing something outdoors. V3: Do you have any advice that you can

give other young athletes who are hoping to achieve some great things like you have, and maybe provide a road map to reaching their goals? CJ: No matter where you think you rank among other players, or grade level, or anything like that, just never give up on yourself. I think a lot of people look at where they came from, what high school they attend, or coming from a small town like myself as a roadblock. But, coming out of a AA school in Rome, Ga., I don’t think that I would let anything like that slow me down. I’ve known since I was 5 or 6 years old that I wanted to play in the NFL. I wanted to be a punter in the NFL. I don’t think

I would let any road block or speed bump in my path interfere with me meeting that goal. On a smaller scale, the main thing is to set goals for yourself. Short-term goals, whether it’s in the off-season or during the season, and long-term goals, maybe two or three years out, are good to have. Whether they are small or big, striving to meet those goals and having realistic goals that can be achieved so that you can see your results, are so important to success. Don’t give up on yourself, don’t let anything get in your way, hinder or slow you down. Just set your goals and knock them all out. Have a checklist and don’t quit! V  VV


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2016 SEC PREVIEW text ian griffin photos courtesy of the SEC athletic departments The 2016 college football season is just around the corner, with a kickoff weekend boasting match ups guaranteed to have fans foaming at the mouth. This increase in highquality, non-conference games is a direct result of the College Football Playoff, which has delivered as promised through its first two years in existence. In the SEC, half of the conference starts the season against a non-conference, Power 5 opponent, and every team scheduled in those seven games is at least considered a contender to win its respective conference. The message from the CFB Committee has been received loud and clear: step up the schedule or get left behind. For fans, this is the best scenario we could

fetched to see a team like Arkansas or Texas

ask for. Just take a look at these seven games

A&M break through and make some noise, so

and tell me you aren’t licking your chops for

the West will be wild indeed.

Labor Day Weekend.

The East is a bit more defined than its western counterpart, with only Tennessee

Alabama vs. Southern Cal (Arlington, TX)

getting a lot of love from the media hype

Georgia vs. North Carolina (Atlanta, GA)

machine. If you look at the roster, you can see

LSU vs. Wisconsin (Green Bay, WI)

why, but the Vols have been on the verge of

Ole Miss vs. Florida State (Orlando, FL)

being “back” for what seems like an eternity.

Auburn vs. Clemson (Auburn, AL)

So, for those that don’t bleed poncho orange,

Texas A&M vs. UCLA (College Station, TX)

it’s a “proof is in the pudding” scenario when

Missouri @ West Virginia (Morgantown, WV)

it comes to the Vols. While Tennessee is everyone’s favorite, Georgia and Florida both

Throw in match ups like Notre Dame at

have legitimate claims to eastern supremacy,

Texas, Oklahoma vs. Houston, and Georgia Tech

and if the ball bounces their way, could end

vs. Boston College (in Dublin, Ireland, by the

up in Atlanta on Dec. 3. The rest of the East

way) and my remote finger starts to twitch in

falls in line behind those three schools. With


new coaches and a lack of depth at South

The SEC recaptured its crown last year with

Carolina and Missouri, it seems both are in

a thrilling Alabama victory over Clemson in the

store for rebuilding seasons, and the scrappy-

National Championship game, making it eight

but-annual-underachievers named Vanderbilt

of the last 10 years an SEC team has won the

and Kentucky shouldn’t pose much of a threat

big game. Though many believe this is the year

beyond shaking things up with an upset or two.

the Tide might miss the CFP, they are certainly

A Cinderella Eastern Division Champion would

contenders to win it all again; however, the

make a great story, but it’s a highly unlikely

hatter, Hugh Freeze and many others will be


gunning to knock them off their throne in the

In the pages that follow, you get my best

West. The talent from top to bottom in this

guess at how things will unfold in the SEC,

division may not meet the insane standards

which is far from an exact science, but that’s

of the past several years, but it’s not too far-

why we call them projections. Please enjoy.

v3 magazine 27


SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

UMass Minutemen Kentucky Wildcats North Texas Mean Green at Tennessee Volunteers at Vanderbilt Commodores LSU Tigers Missouri Tigers OFF Georgia Bulldogs at Arkansas Razorbacks South Carolina Gamecocks Presbyterian Blue Horse at Florida State Seminoles SEC Championship Game


Jim McElwain overachieved in year one, leading the Gators to a 10-4 record and an SEC Eastern Division Championship, despite losing his starting quarterback to suspension mid-season. Will Grier won’t be back as originally expected. And Treon Harris, who is no longer with the team, steadily nosed dived as the season wore on, eventually leading to a three-game losing streak to end the season. Enter probable starting quarterback Luke Del Rio, a former Alabama walk-on and Oregon State transfer who is the son of NFL coach Jack Del Rio. The reports on Del Rio were solid from camp (and honestly anything is a step up from Harris’ production) so expect the Gators to be serviceable on offense. They could exceed that adjective, but that depends on the play of what should be a much-improved offensive line. The Gators gave up 45 sacks last year, which was last in the SEC, but they return nine players with starting experience. So, we can look for more consistency up front. The defense lost several starters, including firstround picks Vernon Hargraeves and Keanu Neal, but depth hasn’t been an issue for the Gators on that side of the ball, putting them in a reloading instead of a rebuilding phase. Jarrad Davis’ return for his senior season was huge, giving the defense a proven leader to call the plays, while cornerback Jalon Tabor is a consensus All-SEC player that can shut down elite receivers on an island. One of the biggest recruiting scores for Coach Mac was … wait for it … a kicker. Eddy Pineiro committed to the Gators over Alabama, giving Florida a kicker they can count on for the first time in years. With a defense as strong as Florida’s, knowing that anything from 50 yards in is close to automatic could make a huge impact in the win column.

GEORGIA BULLDOGS 2015 RECORD: 10-3 (5-3 SEC) PROJECTION: 9-3 (6-2 SEC) 2016

SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

North Carolina Tar Heels Nicholls State Colonels at Missouri Tigers at Ole Miss Rebels Tennessee Volunteers at South Carolina Gamecocks Vanderbilt Commodores (HC) OFF Florida Gators at Kentucky Wildcats Auburn Tigers UL Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets SEC Championship Game

And so begins the Kirby Smart era in Athens. The energetic, former Alabama defensive coordinator and Nick Saban understudy brings with him new energy and uncertainty to UGA. His biggest win so far was keeping incoming freshman and early enrollee Jacob Eason in a recruiting class filled with potential. Now the 28

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on that side of the ball has shown during his tenure. They have struggled getting pressure on the quarterback and only return five starters from last season. A drop off is most likely in store. To wrap it up, expect what you have come to expect from the Cats. They will scratch, they will claw, they will probably upset a team or two along the way, however contending for the Eastern crown isn’t in the cards this year.


choice must be made whether or not to throw the young gun slinger into the fire immediately or stick with the experience of Greyson Lambert. That decision along with the recovery of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will define the Dawgs’ offense this season. If Eason is the savior the fans want him to be and those two backs are healthy, winning the East could be the tip of the iceberg. Smart will undoubtedly bring out the best in his defensive unit, but the unknowns on offense could prove to be too much to overcome for a championship run in 2016, regardless of the defensive effort. While a crucial match ups against Tennessee and Florida are huge, the swing game for Georgia is a trip to Oxford at the end of September. If they can pull off a win against the Rebels, a split with their divisional rivals might get them to Atlanta.



SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Florida Gators New Mexico State Aggies South Carolina Gamecocks at Alabama Crimson Tide Vanderbilt Commodores OFF Mississippi State Bulldogs at Missouri Tigers Georgia Bulldogs at Tennessee Volunteers Austin Peay Governors at Louisville Cardinals SEC Championship Game

Over the last two seasons, the Wildcats have compiled a 9-3 record through mid-October only to falter over the back half of the season, missing out on a bowl game. This year, getting off to a fast start won’t be quite as easy with trips to Tuscaloosa and Gainesville before the 1st of October. If the Cats are going to get over the hump, it will start with production at the quarterback position. Blue-chip prospect Drew Barker showed flashes in his two starts late last season but struggled with consistency. His athleticism is impressive, but throwing accuracy could be his downfall. The O-line returns 87 collective starts, although this is a unit that gave up 30 sacks a season ago. They must improve protection for Barker to succeed under center. Stoops came to Kentucky a defensive-minded coach, and the improvement

2015 RECORD: 5-7 (2-6 SEC) PROJECTION: 6-6 (3-5 SEC) 2016

SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.25 DEC.03

at West Virginia Mountaineers Eastern Michigan Eagles Georgia Bulldogs Delaware State Hornets at LSU Tigers OFF at Florida Gators Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders Kentucky Wildcats at South Carolina Gamecocks Vanderbilt Commodores at Tennessee Volunteers Arkansas Razorbacks SEC Championship Game

After two straight SEC East titles, the Tigers plunged to the bottom of the division in 2015. The program’s most winning coach resigned and turmoil surrounded the program off the field. That’s a lot to inherit for new head coach Barry Odom, who has taken the business as usual approach to dealing with everything swarming around the program. The offense was terrible. However, new hope arrived with new offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who has installed an up-tempo attack that seems


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well-suited to quarterback Drew Lock’s skill set. If the Tigers can generate points, Odom can lean on a stingy defense that returns nine starters and held eight of its opponents to under 200 yards passing last season. Perhaps the new attack will help, but the schedule is brutal. If the offense catches up with the defense, Missouri could finish in the middle of the pack.


SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

at Vanderbilt Commodores at Mississippi State Bulldogs East Carolina Pirates at Kentucky Wildcats Texas A&M Aggies Georgia Bulldogs OFF UMass Minutemen Tennessee Volunteers Missouri Tigers at Florida Gators Western Carolina Catamounts at Clemson Tigers SEC Championship Game

After the shocking resignation of Steve Spurrier in the middle of the 2015 season, Gamecock fans were left scratching their heads and wondering how things turned south so quickly. The “Ole Ball Coach” admitted he let things slip and that reality showed itself on the defensive side of the ball. Enter the defensive specialist, Will Muschamp. Coach Boom tried to revitalize Auburn’s flailing defense in 2015 with little success, but there is no doubt he has one of best minds in the game when it comes to PERRY ORTH

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shutting down an opponent’s offense. He still must have the players in place to do that, and the ’Cocks just don’t seem to have the talent just yet. On offense, Muschamp hired Kurt Roper (former offensive coordinator at Duke and Florida) to run the show. Roper runs a spread attack focused on getting the ball out quickly to playmakers in space. But, with the departure of Pharoh Cooper, there aren’t any established playmakers to count on. There is experience at quarterback, however the rest of the skill positions are inexperienced and unproven. It will be a tall task for Muschamp to compete for the Eastern Division in year one, but he is a relentless recruiter. So, Muschamp’s second tenure in the East could be better than his first in the long run.


SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

Appalachian State Mountaineers Virginia Tech Hokies Ohio Bobcats Florida Gators at Georgia Bulldogs at Texas A&M Aggies Alabama Crimson Tide OFF at South Carolina Gamecocks Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles Kentucky Wildcats Missouri Tigers at Vanderbilt Commodores SEC Championship Game

The Vols have been the most-hyped preseason team in the East for three years running, only to stumble their way through the early part of the season, ruining their shot at getting back to Atlanta. For the past 11 years, they have lost to the Florida Gators in September and that has played a huge role in their championship drought. If anyone wants to bet on the Gators going to Knoxville and walking out with a win, I’d advise them to keep their wallet closed. With 19 returning starters on both sides of the ball and the back field combination of quarterback Josh Dobbs and running back Jalen Hurd, this team has the leadership and experience that no other team in the East possesses. Dobbs drives defenses crazy with his ability to improvise and run, but his passing skills have improved tremendously over the course of the past two seasons. So, preparing for the Vols’ offense will be tedious for opposing defensive coordinators. As for their own defensive coordinator, Bob Shoop comes in after stints at Vanderbilt and Penn State to take over a defense who struggled getting off the field on third downs in 2015. His aggressive defensive scheme should help that deficiency and for a team who surrendered three double-digit leads early last season, that’s good news indeed. As it always seems to be for the Vols, the schedule is front loaded, so if this team gets through October undefeated or with BUTCH JONES


only one loss, they are a lock for Atlanta. If Butch Jones can’t make it to Atlanta with this roster in an Eastern Division as weak as it currently is, he may never make it.

VA N D E R B I LT COMMODORES 2015 RECORD 4-8 (2-6 SEC) PROJECTION: 4-8 (1-7 SEC) 2016

SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

South Carolina Gamecocks Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Florida Gators at Kentucky Wildcats at Georgia Bulldogs Tennessee State Tigers OFF at Auburn Tigers at Missouri Tigers Ole Miss Rebels Tennessee Volunteers SEC Championship Game

The Commodores, as always, are a scrappy bunch. Head coach Derek Mason has built his defense to resemble the ones he coached at Stanford and that scheme will keep Vanderbilt competitive throughout the season. Offensively, there are weapons such as running back Ralph Webb, but until a downfield passing game is established, the one-dimensional ’Dores will continue to struggle to put points on the scoreboard. If sophomore quarterback Kyle Schurmer can find playmakers at the receiver position, it’s possible Vandy could exceed expectations but it’s going to be an uphill battle to say the very least. RALPH WEBB







SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

USC Trojans Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Ole Miss Rebels Kent State Golden Flashes Kentucky Wildcats at Arkansas Razorbacks at Tennessee Volunteers Texas A&M Aggies OFF at LSU Tigers Mississippi State Bulldogs Chattanooga Mocs Auburn SEC Championship Game

Everyone is looking for a chink in the armor of the Crimson Tide. Each season, there seems to be a reason they can’t repeat their success, and for the third-straight season fingers are pointing to the quarterback position. Jake Coker came into his own over the back half of 2015 but his services are no longer 32

v3 magazine

available, leaving junior Cooper Batemen, redshirt freshman Blake Burnett and sophomore David Cromwell to battle it out for the starting position. Batemen has experience and is certainly the favorite, but all three are pro-style passers who fit Lane Kiffin’s scheme to the letter. Heisman winner Derrick Henry’s departure leaves a mammoth-sized hole to fill, but we’ve heard that story before as well. Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris look the part of the plug-and-play Bama running back, so expect more of the same regardless of the turnover. Jeremy Pruitt returns to the Tide as defensive coordinator after stints at Florida State and Georgia, so his familiarity with Saban’s system and the athletes in place shouldn’t show any signs of a drop off on that side of the ball. My apologies to those hoping for a changing of the guard … Bama may or may not win the West, but they could still be playing in the College Football Playoff regardless.


SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.25 DEC.03

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at TCU Horned Frogs Texas State Bobcats at Texas A&M Aggies Alcorn State Braves Alabama Crimson Tide Ole Miss Rebels at Auburn Tigers OFF Florida Gators LSU Tigers at Mississippi State Bulldogs at Missouri Tigers SEC Championship Game

Bret Bielema’s Razorbacks have shown steady improvement over the past two seasons, playing the hard-nosed, rough and tumble style that brought the coach so much success in Wisconsin. They return nine starters and are two deep at nearly every position on defense. That should allow the offense to get through some early season growing pains, but the loss of Brandon Allen, Alex Collins, and Hunter Henry erase a huge portion of the Hogs’ production from last season. Allen’s younger brother, Austin, shouldn’t be much of a drop-off, but to compact the offensive concerns, the O-line, a usual strength for the Hogs, only returns two starters. Throw in the unfortunate fact that Arkansas plays in the Western Division, and you get another season around the .500 mark. I do believe when the dust settles, the Hogs will be bowl eligible.


AUBURN TIGERS 2015 RECORD: 7-6 (2-6 SEC) PROJECTION: 5-7 (2-6 SEC) 2016

SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

Clemson Tigers Arkansas State Red Wolves Texas A&M Aggies LSU Tigers ULM Warhawks (HC) at Mississippi State Bulldogs OFF Arkansas Razorbacks at Ole Miss Rebels Vanderbilt Commodores at Georgia Bulldogs Alabama A&M Bulldogs at Alabama Crimson Tide SEC Championship Game

It seems like just yesterday the Auburn Tigers were on top of the SEC , and the future couldn’t be brighter for Gus Malzahn. Fast forward two years and you have a coach that could be in the hot seat by season’s end. With Jeremey Johnson and Sean White struggling in Malzahn’s play action option attack, it’s a strong possibility that JUCO transfer John Franklin III could win the job due to his dual-threat ability. For the Gus Bus to roll, the quarterback run has to be effective, and neither Johnson nor White offered that skill set in 2015. Regardless of what happens on offense, the Auburn D must improve and new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has been hired to achieve that lofty task. The return of defensive end Carl Lawson could help that cause if he can stay healthy. In only six games last season, Lawson hurried the quarterback 11 times and his ability to rush off the edge could open things up for the big boys on the inside to get after the quarterback. The Tigers are always a tough team to predict, so it’s not too far-fetched to imagine a big turnaround in 2016, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

is finally consistency at quarterback with Brandon Harris, who proved on a few occasions last season that he can make the big play in the big moment. Then there’s the freight train named Leonard Fournette at running back, who is a real nightmare for any defense and a favorite to hoist the Heisman Trophy at season’s end. Throw in a defense that returns nine starters and you have a recipe for a championship. Swing games at home against Ole Miss and on the road against Florida could be potential road blocks, but the game to circle is on the first of November when Alabama travels to Baton Rouge. The winner of that game will win the West and might go undefeated. It’s hard to remember Les Miles was nearly fired a few short months ago, but you can guarantee his departure with anything less than a serious run at a title in 2016. I have a hard time imagining that won’t be the case.

LSU TIGERS 2015 RECORD: 9-3 (5-3 SEC) PROJECTION: 12-0 (8-0 SEC) 2016

SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

Wisconsin Badgers Jacksonville State Gamecocks Mississippi State Bulldogs at Auburn Tigers Missouri Tigers at Florida Gators Southern Miss Golden Eagles Ole Miss Rebels OFF Alabama Crimson Tide at Arkansas Razorbacks South Alabama Jaguars at Texas A&M Aggies SEC Championship Game

LSU and Les Miles are always a hard team to wrap your head around. You can count on them playing Alabama close, but you can also imagine them falling apart on any given Saturday. That said, it’s hard to imagine them not being wildly successful this season. There

OLE MISS REBELS 2015 RECORD: 10-3 (6-2 SEC) PROJECTION: 9-3 (6-2 SEC) 2016

SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

Florida State Seminoles Wofford Terriers Alabama Crimson Tide Georgia Bulldogs Memphis Tigers (HC) OFF at Arkansas Razorbacks at LSU Tigers Auburn Tigers Georgia Southern Eagles at Texas A&M Aggies at Vanderbilt Commodores Mississippi State Bulldogs SEC Championship v3 magazine 33



It’s been an interesting off-season in Oxford thanks to a few gifts from Hugh Freeze’s first incoming recruiting class. The NCAA hasn’t dropped the hammer and may not do so in the future, but that uncertainty is weighing heavy on everyone involved with the program. Regardless, Ole Miss has a ton of talent at the skill positions on offense, starting with quarterback Chad Kelly. Kelly’s stats from 2015 were impressive, to say the least, and even with Laquon Treadwell departing for the NFL, experience and production return in receivers Damore’ea Stringfellow, Quincy Adeboyejo and tight end, Evan Engram. The only question mark on offense is up front, where all five starters from their Sugar Bowl victory over Oklahoma State are no longer on the team. Incoming freshman and five-star recruit Gregory Little will have to step in and contribute immediately, but others will have to step up as well if the Rebels want to match last season’s impressive numbers. Defensively, it’s going to be new faces across the board. The Nkemdiche brothers are gone along with C.J. Johnson, so when you talk about replacing production, that is an understatement. Oregon State transfer Rommel Mageo will be able to step in and bring a lot of experience to the linebacker position, but the Rebels will need unknowns to adapt and adjust quickly if they want to make a run for a championship. That’s a lot to ask, but expect the Rebels to win a bunch of games regardless. MS STATE

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SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

South Alabama Jaguars South Carolina Gamecocks at LSU Tigers at UMass Minutemen OFF Auburn Tigers at BYU Cougars at Kentucky Wildcats Samford Bulldogs Texas A&M Aggies at Alabama Crimson Tide Arkansas Razorbacks at Ole Miss Rebels SEC Championship Game

2015 was a small step back for the Bulldogs, but Dak Prescott was a good enough quarterback to carry a ton of youth and inexperience on his back to reach the nine-win total once again for Dan Mullen. Mr. Prescott’s services are no longer available, so the colossal question surrounding this year is: “Who will play quarterback?” Mullen played four QBs in the spring and there wasn’t much separation, with all four showing promise. Nick Fitzgerald is the leading candidate based on experience alone, but Damian Williams, Elijah Staley, and even freshman Nick Tiano have a serious shot at a quarterback battle that could be undecided going into the final week of practice. The good news is there is plenty of experience to surround the winning quarterback. That experience is available on the other side of the ball as well, but first-time defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon will have to get them acclimated to his system quickly to keep what should be another stingy defense up to par. Mullen seems to get to eight wins just about every season, but replacing Prescott is a tall order that could make bowl eligibility a challenge in the elite division of the SEC.


TEXAS A&M 2015 RECORD: 8-5 (4-4 SEC) PROJECTION: 7-5 (4-4 SEC) 2016

SEP.03 SEP.10 SEP.17 SEP.24 OCT.01 OCT.08 OCT.15 OCT.22 OCT.29 NOV.05 NOV.12 NOV.19 NOV.26 DEC.03

UCLA Bruins Prairie View A&M Panthers at Auburn Tigers Arkansas Razorbacks at South Carolina Gamecocks Tennessee Volunteers OFF at Alabama Crimson Tide New Mexico State Aggies at Mississippi State Bulldogs Ole Miss Rebels UTSA Roadrunners LSU Tigers SEC Championship Game

The Aggies are about as loaded at the wide receiver position as anyone in the nation, but post-Johnny Football, it’s been an issue finding a quarterback that can get them the ball. A number of high-profile recruits have had an opportunity but Kevin Sumlin can’t seem to keep them on campus or out of trouble long enough to make a difference. Could Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight be the savior Aggie fans have been waiting for? Katie Perry sure had a thing for him a few years ago. Unless she can block for him, I don’t think that will factor into his success in College Station. The line is thin and they have to replace a 1,000-yard rusher in Tra Carson, so Knight finding rhythm with his receivers is paramount. John Chavis is in his second year at defensive coordinator and he has what may be the most prolific defender in the SEC with Myles Garrett at his disposal. As good as Garrett is, the other 10 players around him will have to raise their game for the Aggies to compete for a championship. Sumlin may have something up his sleeve, but I expect the Aggies to finish in the middle of the pack once again this season.


IN THE WEST Every fan base wants to win now, not later. And in the Western Division of the SEC, there hasn’t been much turnover of late, so it’s pretty much a guarantee some heads will roll at the end of the season. Here’s our take on which seats are the warmest.


Brett Bielema – Arkansas This relationship is still in the honeymoon period, and Bielema’s teams have shown steady improvement over the last two seasons. So, that gives him a little wiggle room. Even with a really bad season, I don’t see the pink slip coming, but it could make 2017 a make-or-break year for the former Wisconsin front man. Temperature: Tepid.


Dan Mullen – Mississippi State The Bulldogs took a dip from their stellar 2014 campaign last year, but after the bowl season Dan Mullen once again reached nine wins. They are more experienced across the board going into 2016, but if they disappoint, Mullen might look to greener pastures before things heat up in Starkville. Temperature: Luke warm.

Hugh Freeze – Ole Miss How can Hugh Freeze be on this list you ask? Scandal, that’s how. You never know with the NCAA, but if they throw the book at Freeze, or more of Leremy Tunsil’s transgressions hit the live wire, the Oxford faithful may not have a choice but to part ways with the coach who has made them a contender again. Temperature: Humid

Gus Malzahn - Auburn Auburn’s savior from 2013 has found himself in unfamiliar waters the last few seasons … struggling to pick up wins. Fans on the plains have a little rival named Alabama to keep up with, so if Gus can’t get the win bus up and running, don’t be surprised if he gets a one-way ticket out of town. Temperature: Slow sizzle.

1. LSU

For a few weeks, most of us thought the Mad Hatter already had his bags packed and ready for departure from Baton Rouge. In the end, he remained, and his Tigers are favored by many to win the SEC. With a ton of talent returning, expectations are sky-high and results are expected. It’s championship or bust for Miles. Temperature: Feugo.

The former Georgia safety and longtime Alabama defensive coordinator brings the book of Saban with him to Athens, a town so hungry for a championship it could potentially cannibalize itself. Smart has made all the right moves so far and talent has never been the issue in the Classic City, so how he handles the reigns will either take the Bulldogs to the place they dream of or could be a major step back from the coach they ran out of town.

Will Muschamp – South Carolina



Coach Boom’s one-year sabbatical from the SEC East didn’t exactly wow anyone – especially Auburn fans – but South Carolina hired its second consecutive former Florida coach to right the good-ship Spurrier. You can count on a salty defense, but the HBC didn’t leave much in the cupboard for Muschamp, so he will have to rebuild before making a splash in the SEC East.

Barry Odom – Missouri



Les Miles – LSU

Kirby Smart – Georgia

Coaches are a little more comfortable in the East, but with three new faces coming into the fold, that only makes sense. How will the new guys fare in season one at their new respective schools? We can only guess.

The unexpected resignation of Gary Pinkel was a shock to most and, in turn, the program looked inward to find his replacement in defensive coordinator Barry Odom. Missouri’s defense has been its hallmark for the past few seasons, so Odom was a great choice to maintain stability, but how he will handle the rigors of being the main guy remains to be seen.

v3 magazine 35

Suite New Digs With careful consideration to the past, this renovated home has charm and modern features in all the right places. text CORINNA UNDERWOOD photos DEREK BELL


n turning into the pebbled driveway at 1304 Kingston Road, you immediately forget that you are just minutes away from downtown Rome. That’s because a sudden sense of peace and tranquility takes over. The illusion could be due to the privacy of the garden, the lush lawns sweeping elegantly around the house, or the house itself, which blends early 20th century architecture with contemporary windows and a gleaming metal roof. The overall effect is both pleasing to the eye and welcoming. Linda Taylor-McKemie, originally from South Georgia, bought the house in 2008, attracted by its age, high ceilings and original features. Since then, she has completed two rounds of renovations and upgrades, during which most of the structural features were left in their original form, with the exception of new doors and windows. Linda describes this as the favorite home she has ever owned, and she has certainly put a lot of heart and soul into it.

Double front doors lead into the living room, which runs along the complete width of the home. This is the original part of the house and dates back to the 1930s. The rich heritage can be seen in the dark-stained hardwood floors and the original stone fireplaces, one on each side of the room. Enhanced by the high ceilings, long windows and strategically placed lighting, the room is warm and inviting. A short hallway leads to a cozy sitting room with an open fireplace and plush sofas. During the winter, when she’s not traveling, Linda likes to spend her free time here. “This is my room. I relax with my dogs and watch movies in front of the fire. It’s pleasant and peaceful,” she says. There are two spacious bedrooms, the first of which was the original master bedroom. It has a fireplace with gas burning logs and an updated en-suite bath. The dining room also runs the width of the house. “This was part of the old house,” says Linda, “but half of it was the laundry room. Overall, we only added 500 square feet to the


house, and that was because we moved the laundry room to the basement. For the most part we just reconfigured the existing space.” The second round of upgrades, which took place in 2013, was done in collaboration with Jessie Hurst, from Sylvester, Georgia and included renovating the kitchen and adding an incredible master suite. The kitchen is an open, sunny area that overlooks the expansive back yard. This is truly a room designed for entertaining! It features a large breakfast bar and high-end appliances including a gas range, ice maker, wine cooler and refrigerated drawers. Leading into the master bedroom is a small

sitting area/reading nook. The master bedroom itself is light and airy, with large windows and a high ceiling. The décor of the room is themed around the spectacular Louis XIV mantel piece, which frames a wood-burning fireplace. The bedroom is complemented by two large walk-in closet/dressing rooms and a spacious his and hers bath featuring an oversize shower and deep tub. Another contemporary addition is the integrated speaker system that provides sound throughout the house, even down to the basement which is home to a large laundry, double fridge and extra closet space. At the rear of the house is a 600-square-

foot covered deck, which includes an outdoor kitchen area with two built-in Green Eggs and a refrigerator for drinks. Linda points out fireplace number five, which is situated beneath a wide screen television. This is a favorite spot during the cooler months of football season for Linda to sit with her sons and enjoy a game when they are in town. Off the deck is a beautiful lattice-style patio with stone slabs edged with verdant grass. The landscaping was designed and installed by Brad Gilbert and is maintained by Stacy Reynolds, both with Rome’s Watters & Associates Landscaping. Beyond the patio an in-ground pool provides the perfect place to relax or entertain during


the summer. The rear grounds also include an additional stone patio with a water feature and a three-car garage with upstairs loft, which offers potential for conversion into a guest apartment. Linda has found pleasure in living and working within her Kingston Road home, and hopes that the next owners will enjoy it just as much. VVV For additional information about the property or to schedule a showing, please contact Hardy Realty at 706-291-4321.


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v3 magazine 43

Reaching the Goal Line


fter parking three blocks from Jordan-Hare Stadium, carefully hoisting himself from his vehicle, and taking in the busy game-day fervor, Jim Flournoy steeled himself with conviction and began the trek that once seemed so easy he had taken it for granted. His wife was out of town and Flournoy had decided to go to the Auburn game, which at face value doesn’t seem monumental. But the 73-year-old stroke survivor had only within the last year regained his ability to walk and speak. Each step toward the stadium was nothing short of a tangible miracle. “I walked very carefully, without a walker and without a walking stick,” Flournoy says. “I walked in after I had purchased a ticket from a street vendor. I looked up and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I didn’t realize how tall this place was.” If you had told Flournoy in the winter of 2014 that one day he would be able to go to a game by himself, he would have been skeptically hopeful – for, at that time, he was bed bound and learning to speak again.


v3 magazine

When Jim Flournoy fell ill he thought that his time with the Auburn Alumni Band was over, but one medical team had a different goal in mind.

text Lauren Jones-hillman

photos derek bell

The stroke happened in October of 2014. Flournoy was in a store in downtown Rome when suddenly he felting a sinking sensation, as if his body were being swallowed by quicksand. Someone rushed up and shoved a chair beneath him before he hit the floor. An ambulance was called. Flournoy remembers people asking him questions, bystanders and medical personnel, but he couldn’t speak. He couldn’t tell them what was wrong or what he was feeling. It was beyond frustrating. “I was in a hospital bed for five weeks,” he says. “Then, I was in a wheelchair. Then after that, I was taken to various therapists. I went to speech therapy and learned how to speak again. They told me not to get into a very big hurry

or I would stutter. I tried to do as they’d say.” With the help of an aid, Flournoy would get into a wheelchair and roll down the exercise area, where he engaged in several physical therapy sessions a day. “I did all sorts of exercises – walking in place, holding onto horizontal bars, stepping up and stepping down on a set of three steps, rolling over left and right,” he says. “There were various exercises that kept me thinking and moving to their commands.” Eventually, Flournoy was able to leave the wheelchair behind for a walker and, later, a cane. After about six weeks of physical therapy, he could walk to his car using the cane, a major accomplishment. But his work was far from

finished; officials at another local hospital told him he needed to continue his physical therapy, and they signed him up at Floyd Medical Center’s Outpatient Rehab facility. At Floyd, one of the first questions the physical therapists asked him was, “What is your goal?” He replied that he wanted to march in the Auburn Alumni Band again. A 1962 graduate of Auburn University, where he was a snare drummer in both the marching and concert bands, Flournoy had marched in the Alumni Band for 29 years at Homecoming games until the stroke. Alumni of all ages return to the stadium each year and, during halftime, march from the field house to the stadium, once around the field, and then enter the stadium seats to sit and play together, all while the drumline rattles off eight cadences in between the fight song and other distinctive Auburn tunes. “You have to be very dexterous to do that. I enjoy it a lot,” Flournoy says. “But I was unable to walk in the soft grass and down the street

"These folks have brought me from being in a situation where I could not even talk to my family to where I can speak. They told me, ‘Don’t give up. Keep trying.’ And that’s what I’ve done."

because I was out of balance.” Suzanne Dunn, a physical therapist at Floyd Medical Center who was part of the team that worked directly with Flournoy, said his specific goal inspired her and other therapists to help him make his dream come true. “We always ask (our patients), ‘What are your goals for rehab?’” says Dunn. “Some may say, ‘I just want to walk independently again,’ or some may say something specific like Jim, ‘I want to be able to play in the band again.’” Flournoy’s therapy exercises focused on gait training, balance retraining, strengthening and functional-mobility, so that he could walk independently and safely. “He needed to be able to carry his drum, walk and play it at the same time,” explains Dunn. “He had to have a lot of balance, a lot of motor coordination in order to do that.” When Flournoy felt more comfortable on his feet and could balance even better, Dunn says she and the other Floyd physical therapists invited him to play the drum for them. “He stood and played for all the staff and the

patients that were in there,” Dunn recalls. “It was really humbling to us; it was our blessing to be able to see him doing something that he enjoyed doing and to give him the environment that enabled him to do what he loved again.” Dunn said Flournoy’s dedication to relearning to walk and speak, not rushing the process, but allowing himself to be retrained to do things safely, is what helped him regain his abilities. “When we can see them accomplish those kinds of goals … it makes us realize why we do what we do for a living,” she says. “He’s a role model to a lot of the other patients that we have. He will go around the gym and talk to current and former patients and tell them his story, and he’ll encourage them. He is determined.” While Flournoy completed all the structured physical therapy sessions at Floyd more than a year ago, he still returns to the rehab center several times a week. He does exercises on the machines there in addition to what he does

at home.

Each day, he goes up and down the steps to the basement in his home, using the bannisters and being very careful, he says. He walks to the mailbox and back, visits his neighbors, and walks around his home. He and his wife also walk in Downtown Rome to continue to work on his balance. He has had to make a few changes, but at 73, he says won’t be taking any more chances. “I do not mow the grass anymore, even though my yard is relatively level,” he says. “My son does that.” Flournoy conceded that going to the Auburn game by himself last fall was not a wise choice. But sometimes, not even a stroke can keep a hardcore Tiger away. “I wanted to go to the game because it’s in me,” he says emphatically. “I have that enthusiasm.” As for playing in the Alumni Band again, Flournoy is hopeful. “I won’t be marching; I will be walking into the stadium and sitting with the band, but I won’t march in and play all that distance,” he says. “I’m afraid I would lose my balance.” When he looks back to where he was in the fall of 2014, unable to walk or speak, to now, walking carefully, speaking slowly yet deliberately, Flournoy is overcome. “It is almost to the point to where I can’t speak because of the emotions,” he says. “I get emotional about it because it’s so wonderful. It’s as if a miracle has happened. These folks have brought me from being in a situation where I could not even talk to my family to where I can speak. They told me, ‘Don’t give up. Keep trying.’ And that’s what I’ve done.” V  VV

v3 magazine 45

The Family and Staff of Henderson & Sons Funeral Homes would like to give a special thanks to all of our first responders who bravely serve and protect our community.

We are so thankful for all of the sacrifices you make for our safety!

“Rome’s Locally Owned Funeral Homes” Barry R. Henderson

Joe Paul Henderson (1919-2008)

www.hendersonandsons.com North Chapel and Crematory 4900 Martha Berry Hwy Rome, GA 30165 (706) 291-9855 46 v3 magazine

South Chapel 3002 Maple Road Rome, GA 30161 (706) 234-5302

Rome Memorial Park Cemetery 2446 Cedartown Hwy Rome, GA 30161 (706) 290-0990

The Dish urlee s Fish House & Oyster Bar

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406 Broad Street Rome, GA 30161

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Sun : 11:30 - 3:00pm Schroeder’s menu includes sandwiches, calzones, soups, salads, potato skins, nachos, wings, and more. And don’t forget our pizza! It’s the best

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Beers & Wine also offered) Famous

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WOW strives to serve the highest quality of food with the freshest ingredients. You will leave saying “WOW! What a Place!” Famous for: Wings and over 17 signature sauces to choose from!

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Live music each weekend.

La Scala offers both first-rate service and terrific Italian Cuisine in an upscale casual atmosphere. 50% off cafe menu from 4:00-6:00 p.m.

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PH: (706) 204-8173 www.curlees.com Hours: Mon-Thurs: 11:00am-9:00pm Fri-Sat: 11:00am-10:00pm Curlee’s offers casual dining, fresh seafood, hand-cut steaks, chicken and more! It is located on Broad Street in the center of the city, and it has a family-friendly atmosphere!

Takes Reservations, Walk-Ins Welcome, Good For Kids, Take Out, Catering and Waiter Service

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Fri - Sat: 11:00am-11:00pm Dine in, Take out, or delivery... Authentic Italian is what we do! We have enjoyed great success by providing our guests with a casual, friendly atmosphere and excellent service. In addition to the healthy portions of our food, you will see our entrees range from homemade sandwiches, pizzas and calzones to pastas, chicken, veal and seafood dishes. www.romamiagrill.com

Make it a meal worth remembering. Where to eat in Northwest Georgia. v3 magazine 47



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