College Coach on Packers OL Jacob Monk: ‘Truly A-Plus-Plus’

“He’s an O-lineman in heart, mind, body and soul. Everything about him screams O-lineman,” Jacob Monk’s coach at Duke, Adam Cushing, told Packer Central.
Jacob Monk
Jacob Monk / Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Sometimes, longtime offensive line coach Adam Cushing joked, a coach’s voice can sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

“Wah, wah, wah.”

Fortunately for Cushing, he had Jacob Monk for their two seasons together at Duke.

“A-plus-plus person,” Cushing, who now is the offensive line coach and run-game coordinator at Texas A&M. “The work ethic is unmatched. Truly one of those guys that understands what hard work looks like, feels like, acts like. And then I think most importantly, and I attribute a lot of our success at Duke to Jacob, he’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever been around. I’ve been coaching for 20-some years now and I’m talking at any position.

“He understands what the standard is. He understands that it’s not a popularity contest, but it’s more important to hold people accountable. That’s what leadership is, is helping people achieve goals. I’d love to take some credit for it, but he had that down long before we walked in the door. He was raised by an incredible set of parents. They supported him and instilled an incredible value system in him. I know it sounds like I’m gushing, but Jacob is everything a coach would ever want because he showed up every day hungry to get better, hungry to get coached and then willing, able and to carry the message to his teammates and hold them accountable. Just truly A-plus-plus.”

Monk was a five-year starter, with 12 starts at right tackle as a true freshman in 2019 and 23 starts at right guard in 2020 and 2021.

Cushing arrived in 2022. He is a believer in Green Bay’s “best five” philosophy on the offensive line.

“You want to have your best five out there. You don’t want to just roll out the backup left tackle just because he’s the backup left tackle. Let’s shuffle the lineup,” Cushing said.

Monk started six games at right guard and four games at center in 2022 and seven games at right guard and six games at center in 2023.

With Packers-style cross-training in mind, Cushing made a conscious effort, especially in the offseason, to juggle the positions on a regular basis. Plus, to help his blockers endure the rigors of a long season, he tried to sit his starters for a series or two during games. So, not only were Monk’s snaps split relatively evenly – in 2023, he played 351 at right guard and 336 at center – but he played multiple positions in five games in each season.

Coach’s-level intelligence helped Monk switch positions with ease.

“This is one of my favorite Jacob Monk stories,” Cushing said. “It was the first summer we were there. We weren’t allowed to do full practices, but we had some on-the-field drill work we were able to do. I stayed out maybe for an extra 15-20 minutes talking to one of the other players and then talking to some coaches.

“I’m walking back up to my office and I walk past the O-line room and Jacob Monk is at the board teaching the offense to the freshmen. We had just done it and, I’m not kidding you, I didn’t ask him to do it, nobody asked him to do it. He’s just a natural leader and he cares about others in one of the most genuine ways you’ll ever see. That right there would encapsulate who Jacob Monk is. He genuinely wants to encourage other people to be great.

“I think that’ll explain to you how he can handle it mentally, bouncing between positions, because he can go teach it.”

Cushing inherited a seasoned blocker with “man strength” and a thirst for physicality. Under Cushing, the goal was to harness all of that. That will be the task for his new position coach, the Packers’ Luke Butkus.

“He’s incredibly talented naturally,” Cushing said. “He played as a true freshman at tackle. Sometimes when you play that young, you get away with some stuff fundamentally because you’re just holding on to your rear end to stay in front of guys that are four or five years older than you, and some of the habits that get created simply as a result of being thrust into that role aren’t the best habits in the world.

“What was awesome about Jacob was he was dying to be coached every single time he took a rep. He wanted to clean things up. So, between Year 1 and Year 2, just playing more grounded. There’s linemen out there that love contact. Jacob Monk is one of the linemen that can’t live without it. He craves it, he finds it, he needs it. Sometimes that causes him to be a little bit off-balance because he’s like, ‘Somebody get close to me so I can hit him as hard as I possibly can.’

“So, just being grounded and not getting overanxious with his footwork, because he has really good feet and sometimes, ‘Just trust those really good feet. They’ll get you where you want to be. You don’t need them both off the ground at the same time. You don’t need to lean into that contact. You’re incredibly strong. Like a person’s going to move even if you don’t lean into it.’ That’s one of those things that you’d rather have that problem than the other problems, for sure. You’re making me nitpick him right now because there’s not a whole lot of things. He was a pretty darn good player for me.”

Cushing has sent a bunch of offensive linemen to the NFL, including Rashawn Slater in the first round in 2021 and Graham Barton in the first round in 2024.

Knowing what it takes to be a success, why is Monk going to be a hit in the NFL?

“Mentality,” Cushing said. “I’ve answered that same question with a bunch of people this offseason – your organization, scouts across the league as that whole process went. He’s an O-lineman in heart, mind, body and soul.

“Everything about him screams O-lineman. And so, he’s going to live like a pro. He’s going to take care of his body. He’s going to know the game plan inside and out. He’s going to know every position. He’s going to hold the standard. He’s going to be one of those guys that is going to be an asset to the locker room for his entire pro career, which I do believe that he’s going to have a long pro career because of everything I just said. He’s such an asset, not just as a football player, he’s an asset as a person and as a leader and so he’s going to be great for every organization out there.”

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Bill Huber

BILL HUBER

Bill Huber, who has covered the Green Bay Packers since 2008, is the publisher of Packer Central, a Sports Illustrated channel. E-mail: packwriter2002@yahoo.com History: Huber took over Packer Central in August 2019. Twitter: https://twitter.com/BillHuberNFL Background: Huber graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he played on the football team, in 1995. He worked in newspapers in Reedsburg, Wisconsin Dells and Shawano before working at The Green Bay News-Chronicle and Green Bay Press-Gazette from 1998 through 2008. With The News-Chronicle, he won several awards for his commentaries and page design. In 2008, he took over as editor of Packer Report Magazine, which was founded by Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Nitschke, and PackerReport.com. In 2019, he took over the new Sports Illustrated site Packer Central, which he has grown into one of the largest sites in the Sports Illustrated Media Group.