Darryl Monroe is a star-caliber player in the Pac-12 conference, a rare and important find as a freshman when he took the middle linebacker position by storm and clinched day 1 responsibility at BYU.
What could help Darryl Monroe at MIKE is the emergence of Peyton Pelluer, a kid who made a crazy amount of tackles in high school (386 to be exact) and always seems to find his way around the ball. Pelluer was named a Semper Fidelis High School All American player for his 2012 senior campaign.
He is also one of a handful of guys that head coach Mike Leach, defensive coordinator Mike Breske and linebacker coach Ken Wilson continuously pulled out when they were asked which youngsters were impressing last season. Simply, Peyton is one of those kids that the coaches cannot wait to get on the field when it counts, because they know he is going to be special. Watch his highlight tapes and you’ll see plenty of not-so-subtle flashes of Will Derting in the process.
You may wonder how that helps Monroe and I have two answers for you, neither more important than the other but in a particular order for clarity; the first is depth and the other is competition.
Let’s not even feed the idea of theoretical replacement, reality dictates that Pelluer isn’t taking Monroe’s job so the competition angle is simply a means for Darryl to challenge himself and improve. However it was obvious that he was worn down the latter third of the season and while being a year better prepared and ready for the grind will help tremendously, there’s nothing like a good old fashioned blow when the Oregon’s of the world are somewhere in the midst of wearing you down with their ultra-tempo 3rd quarter drives.
The key for the Cougars in this scenario, is that they don’t lose too much on the field whilst making this type of replacement. Also, these are opportunities to prepare for injury and furthering future production through experience. Whether the Cougs have that in Pelluer will be found out this Spring and more in the Fall, but I have been excited for this kid’s emergence ever since he committed.
Another interesting (re)addition to the LB corps this Spring will be redshirt junior Chester Su’a. Personally I think he makes a much better outside backer, but he could add an extra level of security to the MIKE position as a 3rd-stringer if he returns to his old form or better, after whatever challenges and injuries hampered him these past two seasons. He figures to be 100% headed into Spring-ball, so we should know by the Spring game if he can help this team again before his time is up on the Palouse.