Saturday, the Texas Tech football program added to LSU grad transfer safety Eric Monroe to the roster to solidify one of the biggest weaknesses on the team.
After a season in which the secondary was abused worse than almost any in the nation, the Texas Tech football program is turning to the defending National Champions for fortification. Saturday, Matt Wells’ program added LSU grad transfer safety Eric Monroe to the roster in a move that should help sure up the defense’s backline.
Over the last three seasons, he’s appeared in 29 games making 21 tackles (including one for loss) and two pass breakups. But now, he will be expected to compete for the starting job next to senior JaMarcus Ingram, who transferred to Tech last fall from Utah State.
The Red Raiders are hoping that in his final college season, Monroe finally lives up to the hype that surrounded him when he signed with the Tigers out of high school. In the class of 2016, the Houston native was ranked the No. 3 safety in the nation and the No. 55 overall player in the class according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
His list of suitors originally included Florida, Baylor, Michigan State, Ohio State, Missouri, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas, and A&M among others.
Injuries cut his redshirt sophomore season of 2018 to just four games and may have derailed his ability to compete in the uber-crowded LSU secondary. Last year, he saw action in 12 games as a backup DB and special teams contributor. He registered seven tackles from his safety spot.
But despite his modest numbers, there seems to be an opportunity for Monroe to earn a starting job this season in Lubbock. That’s because there are no proven answers at safety for Tech.
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We assume that Ingram will get the start at one spot after registering 22 tackles and a pick in nine games last year. But the other safety job is completely up for grabs. Monroe and senior Thomas Leggett appear to be the frontrunners right now but with neither ever having been a full-time starter, there remains reason to question whether or not they are ready for such a demanding job as playing safety in the Big 12.
Of course, one of the reasons that Tech is searching for two new starters at safety is because Adrian Frye had to move back to corner after trying his hand at safety for the first time last year and failing to make the transition adequately. Despite being a former All-Big 12 corner as a redshirt freshman in 2018, Frye was a disaster at the back of the defense (though, in fairness, much of his struggles were injury-related) and now, he’s gone back to his original position leaving a starting job open for competition in fall camp.
Interestingly, this is the third year in-a-row that Tech has turned to the grad transfer market to help solidify the depth at this position. In addition to Ingram last year, in 2018 the Red Raiders added UT transfer John Bonney to the mix at safety and he proved to be a nice pickup as he made 31 tackles in 10 games.
But Tech isn’t bringing in Monroe to be a nice depth piece. The plan is for him to finally live up to the billing that accompanied him out of high school and earn a starting job in a secondary desperately in need of an infusion of talent after ranking 128 out of 130 teams nationally against the pass last year at 307.8 yards per game. If he can do that, it will go a long way towards helping the Texas Tech football program get back to a bowl game this season.