By JIM McCUE | Contributor
As a junior, the versatile Brandon Monroe was a big play threat on both sides of the ball during a dream season for the Golden Eagles.
In 2012, head coach Casey Taylor hopes to get even more out of his San Jose State-bound senior leader. The key, according to Taylor, will be keeping the seemingly tireless running back/defensive back from doing too much too soon.
“Brandon will definitely be featured more at running back this year,” Taylor said of Monroe’s expected increase in carries due to the graduation of backfield mate Nick O’Sullivan. “He is a tremendous athlete who has the ability to take it all the way every time he touches the ball, but we need him to be fresh on defense, especially late in close games.”
Monroe rushed for 1,662 yards and 22 touchdowns last year, but racked up the yardage with a solid 6.8 yards per carry average because he and O’Sullivan split the rushing work right down the middle with 243 carries each. The shared workload allowed Monroe to be equally effective in the secondary where he made 56 tackles while recording six sacks and one interception.
“I have always played both ways since I started in Pee Wee football,” Monroe said. “I really like to hit on both offense and defense. So as long as I can make it work to be effective on both sides, I want to be in every play.”
That’s where Taylor’s careful watch and potentially tight reins will come into play while Del Oro endures a grueling schedule that includes Southern Section-force Westlake-Westlake Village and local powers Grant and Burbank. The coach said that he hopes to limit his featured back to about 20 carries per game to keep his legs active in anticipation of fourth quarters that will make or break the team’s bid to repeat as league and SJS champs.
“It’s hard because he has home run ability whether he is running the ball, catching the ball, and even returning kicks,” Taylor said. “You want the ball in his hands as much as you can because of the chance he has to make big plays.”
A natural leader on the field, Monroe is prepared to do whatever he has to do to help his teammates experience another successful season. He figures that he can worry about resting when the season ends.
“I expect that it will be a lot tougher than last year,” Monroe said of being the primary ball carrier. “I have never gotten the ball as much as I expect to get it this year, but I am going to embrace it.”
THE MONROE FILES
“¢ THE STATS: Offense: 1,662 yds rushing, 22 TDS, 14 catches for 283 yds, 2 TDs. Defense: 56 tackles (41 solo), six sacks.
“¢ PRIME TIME PLAYER: Monroe rushed for 556 yards and nine touchdowns in four playoff games. He eclipsed 120 yards in each game and reached the end zone multiple times in every SJS contest.
“¢ LEADERSHIP: “I try to be as much as I can for my teammates. … I am more of a leader by example, but I can get vocal if I need to.”
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