January 24, 2015

Monroe's doctrine

Kevin McCarthy

The maxim that you can't teach height remains unerringly accurate so anytime a prep basketball player measuring 80 inches begins putting up numbers, well, it's time to check him out. Meet 2016 prospect Elan Spencer of Lincoln High in Stockton.

photo of Dakari Monroe

Dakari Monroe was Mr. Versatile this past season, lining up at wide receiver, running back and cornerback for Archbishop Mitty. The 6-foot, 176 pounder garnered the greatest recruiting attention as a defender and, although he had various college options, he ultimately decided to stay local, going with San Jose State University (SJSU) of the Mountain West Conference.

His decision was based on multiple factors. “They stayed consistent with me throughout the recruiting process,” Monroe explained, adding that although Terry Malley is no longer on the coaching staff, “Coach Donté [Williams] is there.” Williams was the Spartans defensive backs coach and was recently promoted to recruiting coordinator.

Monroe continued, “It's close to home and the living standard in Silicon Valley can't be beat.”

He's also a guard on the Mitty basketball team and that might be helpful considering the needs of SJSU hoops but “I will be focused on football.”

Cornerback is a unique position, one that positions a defender often in a one-on-one with no backup situation and that's attractive to Monroe. “It requires great mental toughness. It is kind of a don't let someone get past you position but it happens to all the great corners and it has happened to me.”

"The keys,” he explained, “are watching a lot of film to know what the receiver is going to do and working on footwork. That helps you keep a step ahead. It's so hard to be perfect but you try for perfection on every play. I'm really competitive and confident and have a 'how dare you' mentality.”

He credits Keith Burns, the Mitty defensive backs coach (who has just assumed the Monarch head coach position) for “helping me in competing every day. I thought I was but not at the level Burns taught me.”

Monroe also tracks professional cornerbacks past and present, listing Deion Sanders as “the ideal guy to watch” and Champ Bailey as “a great technique guy.” Currently, it's Patrick Peterson who “has very quick feet” and Richard Sherman who "“is so long.”

His attraction to football is multi-faceted. “I like it because you play one day a week and you put all your effort into it where with basketball it can be a lot of games a week. In basketball, one guy can take over but playing football is the real concept of team and I really like the camaraderie.”

Two moments in particular rank among his most memorable on the gridiron. “We were an underdog to Serra [High] and we played really well, smacking them 27-14.” Serra was the West Catholic League co-champion this season. The other being “my junior year was fun because of getting all the way to the CCS.” Mitty finished with an 11-2 record and was co-champion in 2013-14.

Now he's moving from being a Monarch to a Spartan and will enroll this summer.