By LARRY VAUGHT
North Carolina junior linebacker Chase Monroe really had his interest “sparked” when he came to Kentucky for Junior Day earlier this year and it went both ways because the Wildcats offered him a scholarship.
He said defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot reached out to him on Twitter telling him how much he liked the game film he had seen.
“He liked my body control. He liked how I dropped into (pass) coverage and how I moved because getting to the right place is big at the next level.”
The 6-1, 215-pound Monroe admitted he knew little about Kentucky football other than watching a few games on TV and had not really kept up with UK football before.
“But when I came to visit I really liked the program and the coaching staff is very personable,” Monroe said. “The time they spent with me was incredible. Eighty percent of the time coach Eliot was with me. On the bus, walking around on tours, in one of the meetings with coach (Mark) Stoops. I feel like we could have a good relationship and I could look up to him.”
Monroe also liked the vibe he picked up from other recruits during his visit, including Florida junior quarterback Mac Jones — UK’s first 2017 verbal commitment.
“I definitely felt that every guy there was a top guy. They were really interested in everybody there and you could feel the love,” Monroe said. “Guys were taking pictures with a Kentucky jersey on. It was really cool to see and a good atmosphere. I’ve been talking to Mac Jones. He’s a phenomenal player and if I did commit (to Kentucky), it would be a good (20) 17 family.”
Monroe got an offer from Mississippi State not long after his UK’s offer. He now has six scholarship offers with more likely to come.
Monroe understands committing early would take some stress off him. He also knows rushing and making a wrong decision would be a mistake.
“I would like to be committed but I just don’t want to end my recruiting so I can say I am done with it. I want to find the best place for me. I love Kentucky and some other schools I have been to,” Monroe said.
“I want to make sure I am 100 percent committed and not go back on my word. I think it would be worse to commit early and then feel conflicted and want to take visits. I just think I want to make a decision early in my senior year after taking a few official visits.”
Monroe could be a good fit for Kentucky or a lot of other schools. He says he doesn’t like to brag, but describes himself as a “three-down linebacker” who does not have to come out of games on third-down passing plays.
“I can stay in because I can cover (receivers). Everybody can fill a hole and make a tackle, but I go sideline to sideline and can still hit that guy hard.”
He’s used to facing hurry-up offenses. His coach at Davidson Day School is Chad Grier, the father of former Florida quarterback Will Grier.
“We don’t play a ton of passing teams, maybe four or five. So what we do in practice gets me prepared for what lies ahead,” Monroe said. “In this day and age, you need a middle linebacker that does not have to come out of the game on passing downs. That’s the player I want to be.”