AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — D.J. Monroe touched the ball for the first time as a Texas Longhorn and went 89 yards for a touchdown. That was Sept. 5, 2009.
Since then, coach Mack Brown has spent his weekly press conferences hearing variations of the same question: "Why doesn't D.J. get the ball more?"
The answers were simple: Too inconsistent. Struggled to catch. Crowded backfield. Needed to learn the playbook.
That's all changing now. A fifth-year senior, Monroe has scored in every game this season and last week set a school record with his third career kickoff return for a touchdown, his first since his freshman season.
"I was just waiting for someone to kick the ball to me again," Monroe said as No. 11 Texas (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) prepares to host No. 8 West Virginia (4-0, 1-0) on Saturday.
Monroe still doesn't get that many touches. He's just making them count. His four touchdowns are tied for second on the team.
"He gets the ball in his hands and he makes things happen. He provides a spark," Texas quarterback David Ash said.
Longhorns fans have been waiting for Monroe to fulfill the promise he showed in the first game of the 2009 season when Colt McCoy was still the quarterback and the Longhorns were charging for the national championship game.
There have been so many teases along the way.
As a running back, receiver and kick returner, Monroe has played in 40 career games and never averaged less than 6.2 yards per carry. One of the fastest players on the field every week, he had a 60-yard touchdown run against Oklahoma in 2010 that made the Sooners players look like they were standing still. But the coaching staff just didn't trust him to do more.
As a running back, he's a smallish 5-foot-9, 175 pounds and isn't built to take a beating or offer much help in pass protection. As a receiver, he struggled to catch. The playbook at times perplexed him.