Monahan comes full circle in Portland

Oregon native Justin Monahan has been making an impact on Portland area football fields since high school and is still doing so after college.

Before his reputable and productive career as a Portland State Viking, Monahan was a star player at West Linn High School. After high school, he played for PSU. He saw playing time in the 2010-12 seasons. He played in 30 games, caught 112 passes and logged 1,579 yards, which resulted in 14 touchdowns during his three seasons at PSU.

After graduating from PSU, Monahan signed with the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger Cats. Before he took any snaps for the Tiger Cats, Monahan signed with the local arena football expansion team, the
Portland Thunder.

Since signing with the Thunder, Monahan has put up some respectable numbers. He’s second on the team for receptions with 32, fourth on the team in yards with 304 and touchdowns with three. Don’t let the numbers fool you, the AFL is a league that relies heavily on passing, and games are usually high scoring.

Unlike the NFL, in arena football receivers are allowed to move toward the line of scrimmage before the snap. By getting a running start, receivers have the advantage of momentum and speed to throw off defensive backs trying to cover them. For a receiver coming from standard football, the transition into arena football could take some time to fully adjust.

The sooner Monahan adjusts, the better. After starting the season losing the first five games, three of which were at home, the Thunder finally picked up their first win on the road against the Jacksonville Sharks. On April 14, the Thunder traded their number-one receiver, Jeffery
Solomon, for 2010 Arena Bowl champion quarterback Kyle Rowley.

With the old number-one receiver off the roster, this is the perfect opportunity for Monahan to step it up. Prior to the trade, the Thunder had been through a variety of quarterbacks, with none being able to produce a win. Even highly touted former Oregon Ducks quarterback Darren Thomas wasn’t able to effectively distribute the ball.

In Kyle Rowley’s first game under center, Monahan caught six passes for 79 yards in a heartbreaking loss against the San Jose SaberCats. These numbers were second only to Douglas McNeil III, who logged six catches for 108 yards with two touchdowns. These were the only two receiving touchdowns of the game for the Thunder.

For undisclosed reasons, Monahan didn’t play in the Jacksonville game. Too bad he didn’t play, because the newly acquired Rowley put on a show. According to the Portland Thunder’s website, “Quarterback Kyle Rowley shattered team records. His eight touchdown passes eclipsed the previous record of four set by Danny Southwick.”

With the Thunder finally having a talented quarterback at the helm, it will be great to see how Monahan progresses as a wide receiver in arena football, and hopefully beyond. With more and more AFL and CFL players transitioning into the NFL, there’s no telling what’s in store for the future of Justin Monahan.