Developing a pattern

Terps: Freshman receiver Scooter Monroe of John Carroll is pushing himself to the limit to reach his potential.

August 24, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- It's 11: 15 on a muggy Monday morning and the stifling humidity is beginning to set in for a 14th straight day at the Maryland football practice field.

The morning practice is over, and most of the players head for the showers and a welcome break for lunch before the afternoon session.

But an obviously tired Scooter Monroe remains on the field for a little more punishment. Monroe wants to work overtime on some pass routes with quarterback Calvin McCall.

Ten minutes later, the freshman wide receiver from John Carroll comes off the field with sweat pouring off his face. He is again satisfied that he has worked himself to the limit to become a better player.

"Four years from now, when I walk away from here," Monroe said, "I want to know that I did everything I could to develop my game to the fullest. I'm just so happy to be playing for the biggest school in my home state. I came here because of the home atmosphere, and I believe the team needed me."

Monroe's decision to attend Maryland has pumped a lot of excitement about the Terps into Harford County, where friends and fans have given him a big send-off.

Among those pulling for Monroe to make it big is former Maryland quarterback Al Neville (1971-73), who also prepped at John Carroll and still lives in Bel Air.

Neville put Monroe through some passing drills this summer and tried to give him some tips on what to expect in a big-time Division I-A program.

"I went over to his house, and we had a good workout," Monroe said. "His [Neville] competitive juices are still flowing. He also can still throw the football. He told me just to keep my head on straight and not to be nervous."

In two weeks, Monroe has teamed with hotshot freshman quarterback Latrez Harrison to form an exciting deep-threat passing combination.

The strong-armed Harrison and Monroe seem to have developed a special chemistry. Harrison just heaves the ball 60 yards down the field, and Monroe finds a way to outrun the defenders to catch the ball in full stride.

Call it poetry in motion.

In yesterday's afternoon practice, Monroe deked a defender and made a spectacular, one-handed catch.

"Hopefully, Latrez and I can become one of the top passing combinations in the country before we're through," Monroe said. "Maybe we could be All-Americas some day. I'm not jumping ahead of myself at all because I know I have to develop my pass-catching skills and Latrez has to learn a lot. It's all just a dream right now."

Harrison said: "Scooter is so smooth. I think he can be another Torry Holt [former N.C. State star]. Scooter has quickness and speed, and I can't believe he was a running back and not a wide receiver in high school."

Monroe said John Carroll could not afford to play him at wide receiver because "they needed me in the backfield, where I could get the ball a lot."

Though some may be surprised that Monroe has made such a big splash so soon out of little John Carroll, Maryland coach Ron Vanderlinden said he is seeing exactly what he expected.

"I knew Scooter was going to be very good," Vanderlinden said. "He not only has outstanding speed and runs well after catching the ball, he has size, is a great worker, has a lot of intensity, is very prideful and coachable. He is just what we needed. He can use his size to turn short gains into big plays."

Vanderlinden would not guarantee a starting spot for Monroe but said, "He will play a lot."

Monroe is competing with Jermaine Arrington and Omar Cheeseboro for a starting job at the "Z" wide receiver position, meaning Monroe, 6 feet 2, 185 pounds, would line up off the line of scrimmage.

And why Scooter and not his given name, Hun?

"My older sister [Miki] started calling me Scooter when I was a baby because I shifted around so much," said Monroe, whose father is Hun Monroe Sr. "My dad is the one who guided me into football. He was a receiver while playing football in the Navy at different bases. He never pushed me but taught me how to play the game."

NOTE: The three-way quarterback competition among Randall Jones, McCall and Harrison has taken an interesting turn due to Jones' sore arm. Vanderlinden said yesterday that McCall has moved ahead of Jones, but that Jones could regain his No. 1 status as soon as his arm gets better. "I haven't made any decisions on a starter yet," Vanderlinden said. "And when I do I might not announce it because I might not want Temple to know who is starting."

Pub Date: 8/24/99

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