Of Gilroy, Garlic and Gavilan

Gilroy, California is recognized as the garlic capital of the world and is host to the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Gilroy is also the home of Gavilan Community College where LDS safety prospect TJ Monroe has made a reputation for himself. While Count Dracula might steer clear of town, Monroe is hoping that talent-sucking recruiters won't be warded off by Gilroy's pungent cash crop.

At Gavilan Community College, a 6'1", 210 pound LDS safety waits for that elusive D-I football scholarship offer, and hopes his performance over the past two years are enough to lure one school in particular to take a chance on him.

TJ Monroe finished in the top 3 in the state of California for interceptions by a defensive back last year. Opposing coaches took notice and stayed away from the Gavilan JC star this season. That resulted in what would appear on paper to be an average performance relative to 2003.

"I had two interceptions this year [compared to 7 last year]," said Monroe. "I had 1 punt return for a touchdown. I was third in Northern California in punt returns and had 35 tackles on the season. I had around 5 pass breakups."

Monroe will man the starting safely spot on a defense that finished the regular season ranked number one in California heading into the third annual Clo Bowl. The Clo Bowl, named for Clover Stornetta Farms mascot, Clo the Cow, matches up the two top junior college football teams of Northern California.

"We have a bowl game on December 4th. We get to play Santa Rosa," said Monroe. "We [Gavilan Community College] have the number one defense in California."

Monroe is currently receiving some recruiting attention, but is still waiting for colleges to pull the trigger on him.

Said Monroe: "I've got BYU, Oregon, Oregon State, Cal sending me letters. UTEP, I have a buddy at UTEP and I've sent film out there too. Texas A&M, I haven't gotten any contact from them but I think I'm just on their mailing list or something. I just keep getting letters from then and haven't gotten any phone calls or any verbal conversations with anyone," Monroe continued.

"I have talked to some D-II coaches but that's not something I'm really interested in. I want to play at the D-1 level and feel I can play at the D-1 level. I'm 210 and run a 4.6 but I want to get my speed down to a 4.5. I'm thinking of trying to lose around 10 pounds to get down to a 4.5."

With BYU having plenty of mid-year scholarships to give, Monroe could be an ideal candidate to come in and enroll at BYU for the January semester, and be in a good position to start working and learning the requirements and schemes of Bronco Mendenhall's 3-3-5 defense in time for spring ball.

"I'm not sure when I graduate but I am a qualifier out of high school," said Monroe. "You don't have to get an AA. You just have to have, I think, 12 transferable units and you don't have to have your AA if you're a qualifier out of high school."

As an LDS African American athlete, Monroe would have no problem fitting into the unique culture and moral demands that are found at BYU. Along with his religious affiliation to the university, he also has a few friends currently on the BYU football team who would only help ease the transition from being away from home.

"I know some people up there [BYU]," said Monroe. "I have a couple of buddies, well, some people I know up there, Greg Lovely and Gary Lovely. Yeah, I know the Lovely boys. I read that article about Gary on Tota Blue Sports.

"He's a cool guy. During high school we kind of had like a rivalry so we weren't like cool, cool, but at the end of the year we both played on the All-Star team and it was cool. We're kind of like cool buddies and when I see him I say, 'what's up' and we talk and I see how he's doing up there in Provo, Utah and stuff. I would probably say I'm more closer to his older brother Greg (Lovely) though. Tell them I said what's up and to keep their heads up and on keep working hard to try and get on the field next year. Keep on fighting for a starting position."

Monroe is also a good friend of former Grossmont JC wide receiver Joe Griffin who is red shirting at BYU.

Monroe said: "I heard that they had a couple of receivers that got hurt. I also know Joe Griffin. I trained with him. He was wearing some BYU gear and I asked him if he was going there and he said he was. I said that was cool because I'm trying to get out there and that BYU was sending me letters and that I would like to get out there. He transferred. After about three weeks I think he was up there to BYU [for summer workouts] so he could get up there to BYU to earn a spot, but I guess he got hurt. He hurt his knee and had to red shirt."

Given this beliefs and current associations with some on the team, Monroe readily admits BYU is the place he would most like to attend if offered a scholarship.

"Yeah, I want to play at BYU," said Monroe. "I mean, their program seems like a pretty good program and maybe the coach can turn it around. They played pretty good it's just they played some of the top schools in the nation. They had to play some of the top schools in the nation. I think it was 7 ranked schools in the nation that they played."

However, if BYU does not offer him a scholarship the thought of possibly walking on to earn one has crossed his mind.

"I've thought about it," Monroe admitted. "I've thought about walking on at BYU and I've also thought about walking on at UTEP where my buddy plays. I've thought about doing that and trying to earn a scholarship if that's what it takes. If nobody offers me then I'll probably think about it. My parents want me to go to BYU."

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