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Disciplined Virginia Graduate Eugene Monroe Prepares to Tackle the NFL
By Monroe's freshman year of high school, he was 6-1, 250 pounds. By his sophomore year, he had grown three inches. In between, he attended football camps at Rutgers and Maryland and received scholarship offers from both schools. By his senior year of high school, he was the top offensive lineman in the nation and had his choice among just about every major program.
Monroe entered the starting lineup at Virginia by his sophomore year and was named second-team all-American last season. He is just as proud that he graduated from Virginia in December -- a semester earlier than scheduled -- and became the first member of his immediate family to earn a degree.
Monroe's personal growth followed the same timeline. His father died of multiple myeloma when Monroe was in the fifth grade. "It was right when you need your father the most," said Eugene Green, Monroe's uncle, who became a father figure to Monroe and helped raise him.
Monroe fell back on his large family -- he has one blood brother and 14 stepsiblings, and he lived at times with aunts, uncles and cousins -- but he needed to quickly develop personal responsibility after his father's death.
"It seemed like overnight he matured," said Stephanie Green, Monroe's mother.
Because of that, raising Monroe came without difficulties. He applies the same straightforward logic now when talking about the NFL draft that he used when he was a child.
"Finish your homework before you go outside," Stephanie Green would tell him.
"Mom," Monroe would reply, "I wouldn't go outside unless I already finished my homework."
Green laughs when recounting those frequent exchanges. It is her way of reminding herself that she does not need to worry about her son.
"I'm not afraid of him being by himself because he's not a troublemaker," said Susanne Green, Monroe's aunt, who also helped raise him. "If I say be home by 11:30, he'll be home by 11:15."
Monroe spends his idle time wherever home is at that particular moment. He is hooked on his gadgets -- computer, video games, iPhone. During his freshman year at Virginia, Monroe camped out overnight outside a local electronics store to purchase an Xbox 360, earning the nickname "Best Buy" from his teammates.
Virginia guard B.J. Cabbell, one of Monroe's college roommates, marveled at the sound system Monroe installed at their off-campus house and counts on Monroe to fix whatever breaks. Monroe took an interest in Photoshop during his senior year and learned Web design even though it was not required for his sociology major. During off hours, as he trains for the combine in Bradenton, Fla., Monroe plays online video games against his cousins.
One of those cousins likely will move with Monroe to his future home -- according to online mock drafts, possible destinations include St. Louis, Oakland, Jacksonville, who pick second, seventh and eighth, respectively. He will be in a metropolis, and the Facebook friend requests will turn into requests for time and money. But Monroe insists he will not change, even though his life -- and bank account -- certainly will.
"I think, at least, that I have a pretty good idea how to discern someone's heart and their true intentions," Monroe said. "I'm not looking to make any new best friends, especially with these people I don't know."