D.J. Monroe is one of those players that everyone loves. He’s the kind of guy that everybody roots for. Texas fans, his teammates and his coaches alike have all been pulling for him find success on the field.
And this season, he has finally found it.
The fifth-year senior has been the heart and soul of this Texas team and last Saturday, his 100-yard punt return for a touchdown gave the Longhorns a 21-14 lead at the end of the first quarter against OSU.
Monroe set a Texas record with the third kick return touchdown of his career. Before Saturday, he was tied with Fozzy Whittaker with two returns.
“I was pretty excited about it,” Monroe said. “I just thank everybody [on the return team], I thank them first before I took the credit. Those guys are there for me blood, sweat and tears. I’ve always told them, “Just get on your man and hold on and I’ll do the rest.”
He did just that and broke two tackles during the return and displayed how his physical play has improved this season.
During his time at Texas, Monroe’s role has continually changed. He has been going back and forth from wide receiver to running back, but now he is finally getting his time to shine. His teammates are glad to see him getting the credit he has always deserved.
“He was older than me when I came in,” said junior offensive guard Mason Walters. “I feel like he’s really old. Just to see how he is week in and week out is really inspiring. There’s guys out there like D.J. that have put the time in and really deserve to have it handed to them, and they still work their tail off.”
Teams need players like Monroe to look up to. The Longhorns are continuing their rebuilding and though he isn’t a young superstar running back like Malcolm Brown or Joe Bergeron, he brings a spark to the offense. On Saturday when he sped down the field, he did just that.
He doesn’t worry about what position he’s playing, he just focuses on what he has to do to win. His teammates often call him a selfless player.
Monroe also ran track and field at Texas, but this season he chose to not run track in order to improve in football and become one of the football team’s leaders. He is one of the many seniors who plans on leaving the team as they found it, positioned in a BCS bowl game come season’s end.
“D.J. is definitely a big inspiration on the team,” said offensive tackle Trey Hopkins. “Even when he’s not getting the ball, he’s inspiring the guys on the sideline. When he gets the ball in his hand, he’s going to do whatever he has to do, claw, scratch, to make that play for us”
As one of the older members of the team, Monroe has been working to help freshmen understand their role on the team. He is certainly leading by example.
Monroe plans to graduate in December and like many who have come before him, he feels his time at Texas has gone by too quickly.
“To be honest with you, it just seems like yesterday,” Monroe said. “Flew by fast. I can’t believe I have a couple months to get finished with school, have a degree, [and] go into the real world.”
Though he doesn’t get a ton of playing time in the backfield, Monroe is okay with that. When he does get the ball, however, he is doing what he can to make the best of it.
“He is willing to take the backseat sometimes, and he’s willing to help other guys out,” offensive tackle Trey Hopkins said. “When he’s out there, he gives 110 percent.”
Printed on Friday, October 5, 2012 as: D.J. mixes talents to help Horns