Terps Senior DL Monroe Learned From The Best

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Terps senior defensive lineman Andre Monroe discusses his expectations heading into his final season at Maryland, and also reflects on how he's developed these last few years.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- It's only fitting the last undersized and oft-undervalued Terps defensive line recruit stopped by camp practice on Aug. 6 to visit with the team.

While in town for the New England Patriots-Washington Redskins game Aug. 7 at FedEx Field, Joe Vellano, he of only two-stars and few offers coming out of high school, is still an inspiration to many, making the pro club as an undrafted free agent last year and starting a handful of games.

"Joe is always a joy to have around," Terps senior defensive lineman Andre Monroe said Aug. 6 after practice. "Basically he told us to keep doing what we are doing, keep pushing, keep fighting. And like I talk about a lot, just love it [the game], just love it, embrace everything and we'll be fine."

Monroe looked back to the day he came to Maryland, also underappreciated in recruiting, and worked under the former all-ACC tackle Vellano, who once had 22 tackles against triple-option Georgia Tech. Vellano addressed the team after practice during his visit.

"I use him as a model," Monroe said. "I played behind him and at times next to him, and he was always willing to share what he knew. I looked at him as an example, and I don't think it is just me, it's everyone in the program. Because he was an example of someone who came in every day, worked hard and was consistent even with troubles that came upon on. And he kept moving and rose to the top."

Monroe could be that next blue-collar Terps success story, after leading Maryland with 9.5 sacks last season. Not bad for a player listed at 5-foot-11, though that may be very generous. Monroe, like Vellano, plays with a great motor and technique and gets the job done, physical measureables notwithstanding.

Said Randy Edsall on Aug. 6 before practice:

"He's very quick, he's a guy that understands leverage. You know, you got to get very low to block him. I think it's his speed, quickness to the ball. He's relentless, and because of his height he has a built-in advantage going against people. And he's got a good motor," Edsall said.

Monroe is excited to have his junior/senior linemate starters back, which comprise one of the Terps strongest veteran units. Monroe and junior Quinton Jefferson are at the two end spots, and senior Darius Kilgo is at nose. In the two-deep, the Terps have senior nose Keith Bowers, and Monroe said sophomore Roman Braglio is his "guy." Monroe noted that it's the strongest D-line group he has been with at Maryland.

"It feels great to just look and see next to me, or behind me for that matter, that we have people that have been on the field. And that makes the chemistry even better between everyone on the field at the same time," Monroe said. "We also have Roman Braglio, and he is someone I have been pushing and sharing as much knowledge as I can, just as the older guys did to me when I was coming up here."

Monroe said new defensive line coach Chad Wilt has energized the unit, especially when he literally jumps into drills at practice.

"He's a lot of energy. He gets in there, he does the drills with us. He's just all over the place and real excited and just upbeat," he said. "At times he literally gets in there and if a guy didn't do it right he'll get in there and say, "I don't want it like this, I want it like this, and run the drill." Monroe said conditioning was his biggest focal point this summer, as he was looking for every edge he could get. He's at 285 pounds, while he graduated in May so he could dedicate all summer to football and training. He was at 275 pounds last year, but said he's lost no quickness because of the 10-pound gain.

Monroe said last year's 9.5 sack total was great, "but I take that and put it in a box, forget about it. It's time to move on, set some new goals, achieve that, and just keep doing the same thing over and over," he said of upping that total.

Monroe, because of his size, said he learned at an early age "that this game is all about desire. And not only that, but just the knowledge and playing with instinct, which I think a lot of players overlook. With that alone I feel I can take an average player to a great player."

Monroe said early on he got sucked into believing his size limitations would hinder him, but added that his father and coaches soon turned it into an advantage for him mentally and he took it from there. He mentioned that his footwork and his hands lead his ability in the trenches, with a quick first step and good, agile feet. He, like the rest of his family, also dabbled in track coming up, so he is an all-around good athlete.

The only adverse news, ahem, of late, at least for the Terps, was seeing Monroe's younger brother and St. John's (Washington, D.C.) standout safety Ayron Monroe commit to the Terps' foe to the north, Penn State, this summer.

"Yeah, it was tough. But he wanted to do his own thing and that's my brother so I am going to support him no matter what. But leave it at that," Monroe said of Ayron Monroe, who is also a decorated track star.

Monroe hopes to pursue a career in music production after college, and began networking towards that goal this past summer. But for now it's all football for the inspired Terps' grad student, who hopes to hit even higher notes this fall.

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