Ayron Monroe Caps Off Strong Spring With Head-Turning Blue-White Performance
Redshirt sophomore safety Ayron Monroe spent his 2016 campaign contributing on special teams and learning behind veterans like Marcus Allen and Malik Golden. If Saturday was any indication — he learned pretty quickly. Monroe leads a stable comprised of Jarvis Miller, Troy Apke, and rising favorite Nick Scott, and was finally able to show the 71,000 fans in attendance on Saturday exactly what he brings to the table.
Monroe’s interception gave fans a glimpse of the game-changing talent he has to offer. The talented defensive back showed why James Franklin’s been praising him throughout the winter and into spring practice, where he began to set himself apart from elder secondary member Nick Scott.
Plays like the turnover he forced on Trace McSorley are exactly the type of game-changing plays the Nittany Lions want to add to their game in the defensive secondary. Malik Golden and Marcus Allen combined for four forced fumbles and recoveries in 2016, but neither player recorded an interception. Considering the loss of injured cornerback John Reid, the Nittany Lions would benefit from having a player of Monroe’s caliber — especially in the turnover department.
It’s not just the coaching staff applauding Monroe’s efforts, either. “Ayron’s a freak, man,” Koa Farmer said after the game. “That dude is so athletic. It’s really amazing to see because it’s so effortless.”
His blend of speed and strength give him an edge as an all-around safety — something made evident by his five tackles to go along with another pass breakup. It’s just another step in the right direction for a player who’s been gunning for the starting safety spot since he arrived on campus. Time will tell if Monroe can hang on to the starting spot, but he’s certainly left the coaching staff with a decision to make. Nick Scott tested well and made the most of his offseason, but he wasn’t able to translate it to the field. Still, it was essentially one scrimmage — or a glorified practice; there’s 131 days between now and when the Nittany Lions take the field against Akron this fall.
Monroe adds plenty to the mix, and if the Nittany Lions are to repeat as Big Ten Champions in 2017, it starts with maintaining a consistent and efficient secondary — and Monroe could be the catalyst to a revelation from the group.
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