Tulane cornerback Jarius Monroe displays right mix of passion, talent
Willie Fritz always makes sure to include one particular question in the conversation when he’s out on the recruiting trail – and it’s not a complicated one.
“Whenever I go out and recruit, I always ask kids ‘do you like playing football?’,” said the Tulane head coach. “I hope their answer is ‘I love playing football.'”
Fritz notes that one of the current Green Wave players who embodies exactly the desired response is cornerback Jarius Monroe, whose presence anyone who walks into a Green Wave football practice will immediately feel — and hear — on any given day.
“We ask so much of these guys, so you’d better love it,” Fritz said. “And he definitely loves it… Loves playing the game, loves practicing, loves lifting weights, loves studying the game and brings so much genuine enthusiasm about just being a college football player.”
It’s not just Fritz and the coaching staff who recognize the love of the game from Monroe. Teammates on both sides of the ball thrive off of his energy.
“He’s a great player, awesome to be around,” quarterback Michael Pratt said. “He’s a guy that I could be in a different country and hear his voice across the ocean. I know his voice. I hear him all practice long from the opposite side of the field. He loves to talk, a big competitor who is very passionate about the game. Definitely a fun guy to go up against.”
Defensive lineman Patrick Jenkins echoes that sentiment about the former Nicholls State transfer out of East St. John High School.
“He brings the energy every day,” Jenkins said. “And it is really the same Jarius Monroe every day. He’s going to hype you up every day, he’s going to come in the locker room with a big smile on his face every day. That’s what he does, brings the energy.”
When one asks Monroe about what he brings to the table as a cornerback, he doesn’t begin listing off the tangibles or his favorite ways of getting the ball away from would-be pass catchers.
“Passion,” Monroe stressed. “That’s my biggest strength, passion. Just bringing that passion every day, I feel like I can really feed into other people. (Technique) is something I’ve been working on a lot, and that’s going to show when we get back on the field. You’ve got to keep some stuff in the bag. You can’t say everything.”
Intangibles aside, Monroe also a talented player and one of the most underrated corners in college football. He is a sleeper prospect to watch ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft.
There are several things about both his frame and games that have impressed scouts. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds with a strong degree of physicality, instinct and ball-tracking ability, Monroe has assets that could serve him well on the next level.
He finished out the 2022 season with 50 combined tackles (35 solo), eight passes defended and three interceptions. This year, Monroe is poised to slide into a bigger role in 2023.
“I think he’s a very different corner in college football,” Fritz said. “Really big guy… Most of the corners in our league are about 6 foot, 180. His size allows him to play well and be really aggressive because when he gets to you, he’s going to move you a little bit.”
Monroe also possesses the confidence to match his size, as reflected by the pinned Tweet on his Twitter account. It features a photo of him picking off projected No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams with the typed words, “When’s the last time a CB won the Heisman? Asking for a friend…”
Although self-confident, Monroe also still sees room for improvement. He’s spent time during the offseason with esteemed strength and conditioning coach Kurt Hester, in film study of larger cornerbacks and in conversations with some of the best to have played the position at the highest level.
“I’ve added a couple of things (to my game) from Sauce Gardner, Jalen Ramsey, some of the bigger corners. Some of the older guys too, like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie,” Monroe said. “Cromartie has taught me a few things. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, he’s taught me some things as well. Connecting with them I think has helped me to grow as a player.”
Monroe can’t reveal the specifics, at least not right now.
“We can’t talk about that just yet, but there’s something Rodgers-Cromartie and I are still working on with me. Just a little something that he uses as a big corner that helped him when he was in the league. And me being a bigger corner, it’s something I’m trying to add to what I can do.”
Such mystery adds to the intrigue surrounding Monroe. It could have a big say in how much he continues to rise up the draft boards.
When Tulane opens up the schedule against South Alabama on Sept. 2, plenty of people will be watching to see just how good Jarius Monroe can be.
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Crissy Froyd is a sports reporter of roughly nine years who graduated from LSU and has spent time at USA TODAY SMG, NBC Sports and the Fan Nation network on Sports Illustrated. She specializes in quarterback analysis and covers the SEC and college football across the state of Louisiana in addition to working with several college quarterbacks across the nation.