2. Darryl Monroe
Monroe tore his Achilles tendon in his first game at WSU in 2011. When the following spring rolled around last year, he wasn't quite 100 percent yet. And it didn't matter – the Cougar middle linebacker was terrific out on the field when allowed to practice at full speed.
Monroe was ultra-physical, adept at reading the eyes of QBs and RBs and he still had that ultra-quick first step – even though at that time he was still on the mend.
And the hits kept on coming in the regular season.
IT MIGHT ESCAPE memories now but headed into the 2012 season, linebacker was a huge question mark for Washington State.
Monroe, along with players like Cyrus Coen and Justin Sagote, helped to settle that issue quickly in 2012.
As a second-year freshman, Monroe earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors with 80 total tackles, second-most on the team. Among his stops were 8.5 tackles-for-loss, including three sacks.
But postseason awards, even honorable mention recognition, aren't exactly geared towards redshirt freshmen playing on 3-9 teams. In other words, arguably, Monroe played even better than that, than your average honorable mention-type.
AT 6-FOOT-1, Monroe went from 213 pounds upon his arrival in January of 2011 at Washington State, to 228 pounds in Year 2 with the Cougars. This spring, he checked in at 235 pounds, (though he'll probably lean up a bit over the summer, as most players tend to do in the summer before fall camp.)
And while Monroe has always been a big hitter, more importantly he's been a sure-tackler.
But he's so gifted athletically, he hasn't yet come close to his ceiling. Even for the most talented of players, they'll never be all they can if they don't put in some serious time and hard work on top of their natural talent. And if Monroe does that, WSU linebackers coach Ken Wilson told CF.C this spring, then Monroe can become the best in the Pac-12.
A big part of that also has to do with the intangibles at the linebacker position. And Monroe, says Wilson, has all of them.
Those include both swagger and the desire to take on a natural leadership position, even though he'll be a third-year sophomore this season.
His attitude this spring was what you like to see – confident in both himself and his ‘mates on defense, and amped up.
BASED ON HIS play this past season, a lot of schools flat out missed on Monroe coming out of well-known Dr. Phillips High in Orlando. The Cougs didn't.
And for the next three seasons at Washington State, it would appear very likely indeed that Monroe will be calling attention to that fact on Saturday afternoons in the fall.
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