Safety Darion Monroe has been an active participant in three season-ending losses with the Tulanefootball team. Defensive tackle Corey Redwine has been on campus for one more.
Each time, the Green Wave players talked about how much they wanted the seniors to leave on a high note, and each time they came up short. Monroe really doesn’t want to waste his final opportunity.
“We couldn’t send the last three senior classes that I have been a part of out with a win, so it would be great to send myself out with a win,” he said. “I know our younger guys will fight hard for that, and whatever happens, happens. We just have to go out there and play well.”
Monroe, who has started all but one of 48 games in his career, is the most decorated of the seven scholarship seniors who will be honored before kickoff when Tulane (3-8) plays Tulsa (5-6) at Yulman Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday. Redwine, an occasional starter until this year, proved to be the most persistent.
The others in the small class are running back Rob Kelley, quarterback Jordy Joseph, tackle Arturo Uzdavinis, defensive end Royce LaFrance and punter Peter Picerelli. Four redshirt juniors — offensive linemen Colton Hanson, Nathan Shienle and Bob Bradley and defensive tackle Calvin Thomas — also will participate in the senior ceremony, as will former players Fudge Van Hooser and Alex Paul, whose careers were shortened by injury.
Monroe, though, is the only senior who started from Day 1 of coach Curtis Johnson’s tenure. After four years at East St. John, he became the first four-star recruit to sign with Tulane since the advent of Rivals.com in 2002, changing his commitment from Texas A&M.
He enters his final game with 330 career tackles, three forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and five interceptions, having led the team with 94 stops as a true freshman. His impact was even greater on morale, with his infectious personality, constant smile and intense competitiveness lighting up almost every practice.
“He’s the one guy that just embodies Tulane football,” Johnson said. “His leadership is outstanding, both on and off the field. He makes sure guys are going to class and is on guys about the meal room and stuff like that. This year he changed his body. He’s gotten faster, he’s more athletic and he gave himself a great opportunity to play hard.”
The only thing Monroe could not do this year was win. He looks back to 2013 as his career highlight: The Wave broke a 10-year postseason drought with a bid to the New Orleans Bowl.
“It’s bittersweet to be leaving,” he said. “It’s been a great time.”
While Monroe has been a fixture, Redwine, a late bloomer, is leaving for the second time. He participated in Senior Day last year, receiving a signed football from the team and a framed jersey he gave to his mom before changing his mind and returning for a fifth season while attending graduate classes.
The payoff: a career-high nine starts, a career-best 27 tackles and three sacks after a goose egg in that category through his junior year.
“It was definitely worth coming back and doing my last go-around with my brothers,” he said.
A year after losing his starting job to true freshman Sean Wilson, Redwine, from Fairburn, Georgia, reclaimed it in Week 2 and held on to it. His signature performances came against triple-option teams, with a personal-best seven tackles versus Navy and four stops for loss at Army.
“He’s dedicated, and this is the best I’ve ever seen him,” defensive line coach Kwahn Drake said. “He’s playing high on emotion. He said, ‘Coach, I’m going to play for you. I’ve got you. I’m going to put all your stuff on my back, and I’m going to carry it for you.’”
On Friday, the soft-spoken Redwine will get his second signed ball and framed jersey. He plans to keep those, too, but like Monroe, what he wants even more is that elusive season-ending win.
“It would be definitely fulfilling to finish out strong and go out a winner,” he said. “That would be worthwhile.”