Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Timing right for Virginia Cavaliers' Romero
The outside linebacker had six tackles in his first start for UVa on Saturday, and his family, including his father, got to see them all.
PETE EMERSON | University of Virginia
Virginia outside linebacker Daqaun Romero (center) earned his first career start against North Carolina State on Saturday. The ex-Phoebus star had six tackles and tipped a pass that was intercepted in the Cavs' 33-6 win.
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Aaron McFarling's blog
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- It was an uncanny piece of timing that placed Hugo Romero in the stands at Carter-Finley Stadium on the same day that his son, Daquan, got his first start as a member of Virginia's football team.
It was the first time that Hugo had seen his son play as a collegian, and it took a natural catastrophe to make it possible.
Daquan had known all week that he would get his first start in place of suspended outside linebacker Henry Coley, not that his father was waiting for that occasion.
"He works every day, basically," said Daquan, who goes by Da Da (pronounced Day Day). "He drives a taxi in New York. There wasn't a lot of business because of the hurricane. Nobody was really going anywhere."
Romero's birthday is coming up and there had been some talk of his dad coming to an upcoming home game.
"He couldn't make that game," Daquan said. "So, it was either now or never, and he didn't want to miss this game. It was the perfect time, actually, for him to come."
On top of everything else, the Cavaliers snapped a six-game winning streak in beating favored North Carolina State 33-6.
"It was a good feeling to see your dad, your son, your mom, your sister, your brother - your aunt, all in the same setting," said Romero, father to a soon-to-be 5-year-old.
"I'm not a big crier, so I wasn't crying or anything, but it was a good feeling to see everybody and give everybody a hug."
Romero is a graduate of Phoebus High School in Hampton, where he played on three consecutive state championship teams. As a defensive end, he had 19 sacks in 15 games as a senior in 2010.
Romero was moved to outside linebacker at Virginia and played as a true freshman in 2011, when most of his time came on special teams.
"There's a lot that you have to learn to play linebacker," said Romero, listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds. "I didn't know any coverages coming into college. I just knew how to rush the passer and get to the football."
And, he enjoyed it.
"To me, I like playing defensive line but at the end of the day, this is what I'm here to do," he said.
Virginia's other outside linebacker, senior La'Roy Reynolds, often can be seen inching up to the line of scrimmage. In time, that could be Romero.
"We've got formations where I can blitz more," he said. "Once they feel I'm more astute, there will be a little bit more freedom."
Although Coley has been reinstated, Romero is listed as the starter for the Cavaliers' noon game Saturday with Miami. Perhaps, the butterflies won't be pestering him the way they were in Raleigh.
"There [were] a lot of nerves," he said. "It's a whole different nervousness. You're thinking about 100 things. It's like you can't move."
He was credited with six tackles, four of them unassisted, and tipped a pass toward teammate Eli Harold for an interception.
"I'm probably my worst critic," Romero said. "Everybody tells me that. So, I'm big on doing everything 100 percent great. I felt I could have did more. I felt like I didn't play with enough emotion."
There was also some nervousness about his father seeing him play for the first time since Da Da was in 10th grade and Phoebus was meeting archrival Hampton.
"That was one of my best games," Romero said, "[but] I understand, with my dad's schedule, he's really busy and I don't want to force anything on him."
Dad had to like what he saw.
"It was just a humbling experience in all," Da Da said. "You've got to find your swagger basically and that's what I'm looking for right now. I got that start out of the way. Now is time for me to play."