SAN JOSE -- Brandon Monroe was a standout running back at Del Oro High in Loomis, a school that's been good to San Jose State.

But when Monroe signed with the Spartans, coach Ron Caragher said Monroe's days carrying the ball would likely be behind him.

"He runs with power and he makes people miss, but I think what would get him on the field the quickest is the safety position," Caragher said on signing day in February.

Those words appear to be ringing true. The freshman, who attended the same high school as former SJSU tight end Ryan Otten, could be in line to earn a starting job when the Spartans open the season Aug. 29 against Sacramento State.

"That would mean a lot to me," said Monroe, who was the Sacramento Bee's player of the year last season.

Monroe rushed for 3,456 yards and 42 touchdowns in three seasons at Del Oro, which included an appearance in the Division II state championship bowl game as a junior in 2011.

He participated in the International Bowl as a member of the USA Under-18 squad in January and was the U.S. player of the game in the 29-14 win over Canada. He collected 238 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries.

After that, was it tough giving up on playing offense?

"No," Monroe said. "That's one thing I told Coach Caragher, 'Wherever you need me, I'll play. Whether it's tight end or receiver, I'll play wherever you need me to play.' "

The result has been Monroe receiving lots of time with the first team defense at safety.

Caragher has been pleased with the true freshman's work on defense and on special teams and conceded Saturday that Monroe will likely not redshirt this season. That makes Monroe very happy.

"I really wanted to come in and start playing," Monroe said. "That's really every freshman's dream, to come into a Division I school and start playing. I'm so thankful that I have the opportunity to actually make an impact here. I'm not just going to take it for granted."

Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.