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June 13, 2004Plainfield, N.J. offensive tackle Eugene Monroe has as many offers as anyone would need. Super powers like Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Southern Cal, Michigan, LSU and others have all sent their intentions in writing. However, Monroe has made an early decision and is very relieved the process is over.
"I committed to Virginia," said the 6-foot-6, 320-pounder, who is ranked as the No. 11 player in the country. "I visited there this past weekend and I just fell in love with the place. It has everything I need -- great academics, great football, location, people -- it's the perfect fit."
Monroe, who was also seriously considering Maryland, got that feeling in his heart when visiting Charlottesville this past weekend.
"They say you'll know it when you're on campus when it's the place for you," he said. "That's the feeling I got. I can't imagine another place that's better for me. It was funny because I was in coach Prince's office and he was looking at me funny because I looked confused. He didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to commit but I just wasn't sure I should. When I got back home and slept on it, I was sure today."
Monroe is the top player in the state of New Jersey and has been compared to the likes of Bryant McKinnie, Orlando Pace and Jonathan Ogden. However, the modest superstar wants only one thing.
"I want to be the first Gene Monroe," he said. "I think I can do that at Virginia and come away with everything I want in a college experience."
Monroe is easily the highest-ranked recruit in Virginia's class so far, a class with 14 commitments. He ties linebacker Kai Parham as the highest ranked player to commit to the Cavaliers since Rivals.com has been covering recruiting. Parham was also ranked No. 11 in the country back in 2002. Monroe could crack the top 10 by the time Signing Day comes around.
"I hope so," he said. "I feel I'm still a bit underrated."
As a junior, Monroe registered 57 pancake blocks and was named all-state, all-region, all-county, all-conference and all-Metro last season. The massive lineman will begin recruiting for UVA right away.
"I plan on calling some of the top players they're involved with," he said. "Derrick Williams, Melvin Alaeze, Mike Brown, Pat Shiel, you name it. I already instant messaged Brian Cushing and told him that I'm going to Virginia and he's coming with me."
Monroe was originally going to enroll at a college in January of 2005, but has changed his mind.
"Academically, there are advantages and disadvantages to it, but there were more disadvantages," he said. "I'm going to wait until August of 2005 and I feel I'll be ready to compete for a starting job right away. I don't really plan to redshirt."
Monroe is the highest-ranked player to commit for 2005 so far, surpassing No. 12 Jamario O'Neal (Ohio State) and No. 13 Kevin Grady (Michigan).
"That's another advantage to making this decision this early," said Monroe. "I'm hoping some players will see this and want to join me at Virginia. I was originally going to wait, but I felt it in my heart that UVA was right for me and there was no point. I'll take one official visit -- to Virginia."