Hometown: Hampton, Va
High School: Phoebus HS
Just a 3-star recruit, Daquan "Da-Da" Romero was recruited by most of the schools in the mid-atlantic. The problem with his rating is that he was rated by all 3 recruiting services as a DE. But he was never going to play DE at this level. He's simply too small. Romero was recruited by most schools as an OLB. His best fit may have been as a 3-4 OLB along the lines of a Darryl Blackstock. He's came in with the same type of athleticism and pass rush skills that Blackstock had. In HS, Romero was a DE. He had 30 sacks as a junior and 19 sacks as a senior. That explains the recruiting services. But again, schools did not see Romero as a DE.
Romero enrolled early at Virginia, participating in spring practice in 2011. He saw action in 2011 as a freshman, playing mostly special teams, but getting some run on defense. He finished with 13 tackles, including 1 TFL, in 10 games. He also had 1 pass defended Last year, he began the season as the backup to Henry Coley at the OLB position opposite LaRoy Reynolds. After Coley was suspended, Romero started the final 4 games of the season. He finished the season with 44 tackles, 3.5 TFLs, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. Prior to the final 4 games, he was still spending most of his time on special teams.
Romero may still see some action on special teams, but he's now a starting OLB. The Hoos have a bit of a battle at SLB (Demeitre Brim and Mark Hall), and a bit of a battle at MLB (Coley and Kwontie Moore), but the WLB position is set. Romero is the unquestioned starter.
Da-da is still a bit of a tweener. He's put on some weight, getting up 235 from his recruit weight of 210, but he's also added quickness. Despite being listed as a Will LB, Romero isn't really at home in pass coverage. He's certainly improved in that facet, but it isn't his strength and it never will be. Romero's strength is rushing the passer. This makes him an ideal fit in new DC Jon Tenuta's defense. Tenuta doesn't really differentiate between Will and Sam LBs when making defense calls. He'll use both OLBs interchangeably and his LBs are asked to do everything.
Still, like any good coach, Tenuta wants to put his players in a position to succeed. Romero's best chance to succeed is by attacking. Watch Romero this season, and he's going to spend most of his time running upfield into the backfield. He's strong enough to blow up a RB or TE blocking, and he's fast enough to beat an OT off the edge. He also has advanced pass rush moves for a smaller guy with little collegiate experience. Those moves will pay off this year.
As I mentioned, Romero is going to be asked to spend some time in pass coverage. He's going to asked to play some edge contain. But he's also going to be asked to hit people. And by people, I mean quarterbacks. Romero could end up leading the team in sacks. If he does, Tenuta will be smiling on the sideline.