Joe Monarrez, psychology major and wide receiver at Cal Lutheran, needed something to knock himself out of a training-camp funk last season.
Monarrez was depressed because his id was out of sorts and he was out of the lineup. He told one of his coaches that a slap across the face might stimulate his psyche.
His request for shock therapy was granted shortly by a Santa Clara defensive back.
Monarrez was running a short post pattern over the middle when CLU quarterback Tom Bonds threw a pass that forced Monarrez to extend his 6-3, 190-pound body for the catch.
"I got clocked and my face mask was thrashed, but I held on to the ball," Monarrez said earlier this week. "From that point on, I was out for vengeance. I think that's the point it hit me where I said, 'It's about time to start doing it.' "
In the final self-analysis, Monarrez said his early season problems weren't that complicated. He was unnecessarily putting too much pressure on himself, trying to impress too many people.
His late-season performances, however, were the memorable ones.
He caught seven passes for 92 yards and a touchdown against Southern Utah after starter Eddie Gran went down with a separated shoulder. Monarrez's three touchdown receptions the following week against Azusa Pacific tied a single-game school record. In the final game, against St. Mary's, Monarrez caught 12 passes for 150 yards as Bonds set an NCAA record with 44 completions.
"He was brilliant and we feel he's going to pick up where he left off last season," Cal Lutheran Coach Bob Shoup said. "He has a lot of courage and has worked hard at running disciplined routes."
Translation: He's no Ben Johnson.
Monarrez, a senior, doesn't pretend to be a flash. But good moves, good hands and a good relationship with Bonds likely will keep him from becoming a single-season wonder.
"I'm deceiving," Monarrez said. "I guess other teams probably say, 'He's not a deep threat.' So maybe, sometime, I just might let it loose."
Monarrez's 34 receptions were third on the team last season. One catch, a 71-yard touchdown against Azusa Pacific, was the team's longest play from scrimmage. He is the only returning experienced receiver at CLU and will be Bonds' main target in the Kingsmen's pass-happy offense.
This is also the third year that Monarrez and Bonds will be roommates. Both players have worked at the Dallas Cowboys training camp for three years and their common experiences have helped them learn to read defenses--and each other.
"When we're out on the practice field with the Cowboys, we ask the receivers and defensive backs how they do certain things," Bonds said. "We try to learn together so we're on the same page."
Monarrez was recruited out of Antelope Valley High where he was a two-time all-league performer in football and basketball.
"I got a letter from Cal Lutheran that said they passed 40-50 times a game," Monarrez said. "I told my high school coach about it. He said, 'That's the school for you.' "
Monarrez played on the freshmen team his first year and played sparingly as a sophomore. Last season, he felt he had a good chance to start until the coaching staff decided to go with Gran, a senior.
This season, Monarrez is expected to carry the pass-catching load. Bonds, who has passed for 5,783 yards, is pursuing the Division II career passing record of 8,521 yards set by Jim Lindsey of Abilene Christian in 1967-70.
"Joe had to work hard the first two years and he hardly saw the field," Bonds said. "Now, he's the man."