DAY 3: Dorian Munroe Looking to Play

Recently I wrote a column about the guys I thought would have “breakout” type seasons in 2006. On that list is safety Dorian Munroe and after two days in shorts I am even more convinced the redshirt freshman safety from Miami will be a force for the Gators this fall. Munroe has average size at 6’ 203, but he has way above average change of direction, which is a key for a defensive back.

He also showed in the spring that he liked to hit and loved to compete.

Florida’s secondary is in a bit of a state of flux with the departure of three corners from last season and the moving of Reggie Nelson to corner. As a result while Kyle Jackson and Tony Joiner are the first team guys to open fall camp, the opportunity to swipe one of those jobs is definitely there. I could see Munroe taking a starting job or ending up as the nickel if the top two play well and Nelson nails down a job at corner. Either way, the Miami Coral Reef High School product will find himself on the field quite a bit.

I spoke with Munroe about his mindset heading into camp this fall:

LV: Dorian, after a redshirt season now you are out here competing for a starting job. How are you approaching it?

DM: I’m approaching like I can be the starter. My coaches tell me the safety positions are pretty much open right now and there’s no clear-cut starter so I gotta approach coming to work every day as a starter.

LV: When you found out Reggie Nelson was switching to corner did that tell you there was even more of an opportunity to get playing time this fall?

DM: I thought about it a little bit, but as a competitor you don’t look for the easy way out. I want to earn a starting job, not be given a slot. That’s why I chose to come to the University of Florida to compete with the best. I thought about Reggie moving, but it didn’t change my thinking.

LV: How do you feel about your progress as a player and being able to go out there and compete for a job?

DV: Man, from last year to this year is a 180 (degree turnaround). There would be days like I’d shake my head and say, “man what am I doing out here?” But this year it’s completely different; I feel like I fit in and belong here and I’m one of the guys. I can go out there with the first team and we won’t even skip a beat.

LV: What’s the camaraderie like with the guys in the secondary?

DM: Man, we’re really coming together as a family. In the past we had some problems, but now it’s a family. Everybody wants everybody else to do good. When we’re in one-on-one and somebody makes a play everybody is congratulating him. That’s making us more of a unit.

LV: What was the problem last year? Was it one guy?

DM: No, but it’s just this year we’re doing a lot more things during the summer. Our strength coaches are having us do things that make us more of a team whereas last year as freshmen we came in late in the summer and really weren’t a part of those things. This year, having been here all year it’s a big difference.

LV: Is there a leader in the group as far as you’re concerned?

DM: We’re pretty cohesive but my buddy Tony Joiner would have to be the leader. He’s the one who gets us going. There are times when it’s really hot and we’re dragging and Tony will say something funny to get us going.

LV: The biggest question many of us have about this football team is whether or not the secondary would be good enough. So let me ask you, will it be?

DM: The secondary definitely won’t be a weakness. We go up against the best offense, the best receivers in the nation every day and we hold our own. So once we line up against somebody else we expect to have the upper hand. We’ll be ready.

For a moment there I was expecting Munroe to indicate there was a little personality conflict in the back line of the Gator defense last year. But really, it seems like the issue is a typical one for a freshman — you don’t feel like you belong until you get into the mix. Well Munroe is in the mix now and you can expect to see a lot of # 34 from opening day.