The Roundup’s end of spring rundown kicks off with a look at players from the one and true king, Southwest Conference, who are primed to pop this fall on a field near you. We call them Playmakers*, we hope by next December they’ll be household names. *This series has no affiliation with the dumpster fire ESPN series from the early 2000s.
Do you ever get the sense that a stock is trending up? Like the secretary at Microsoft who became a gazillionaire overnight after those useless shares finally hit and justified that dead-end job she took working for those pleated pantsed nerds? That how we feel about DeAndre Torrey from North Texas.
The JUCO product started small, but ended up playing big, much like Egg Shen told us in John Carpenter’s seminal work “Big Trouble in Little China.” “But that’s how it always begins. Very small.” Egg was right, and so was Seth Littrell when he recruited Torrey out of Gulf Coast Community College by way of Gautier, Mississippi.
Want to see a trend that should make Mean Green fans salivate? Boom:
From the opener to the UTEP game, Torrey averaged six carries a game. Remove the Incarnate Word contest, and that number drops (3). Most of the early carries and touches went to Loren Easly who injured his knee in the Louisiana Tech game and didn’t play again in 2018. Torrey did most of his damage returning kickoffs, putting up two 100-yard return games, including a return touchdown against SMU in the opener.
The raw ability became clear on special teams. As a straight line rusher, Torrey is a burner, and his diminutive size makes him hard to track in the backwash of an offensive run scheme and tougher to knock off his feet. By the UTEP and Southern Miss games, Torrey was starting to garner more carries, though still splitting attempts with Nic Smith. Throw the UAB film out. Literally. The Mean Green ran for 64 total yard on a paltry 2.8 yards per carry average. The Blazers were a different animal in CUSA last season.
For Torrey, the Rice game started a four-game stretch of 100-yard performances where his attempts increased from 6.2 per game to 20.2. The added workload yielded great results. Torrey averaged 153.5 yards per game and 7.8 yards a carry. That boost helped turn the North Texas rushing attack into a viable option, raising the teams' yards per carry from 4.0 in the first eight games to 5.4 in the final four.
By the end of 2018, Torrey finished fourth in the league’s rushing race and with nearly 100 fewer carries than the top three finishers.
Can Torrey continue to put up numbers that made him the best back in the second half of the CUSA schedule? That depends on t0uches and touches will be at a premium with Easly and Smith both back and elder statesmen. Much of that will fall on the thought processes of the coaching staff who seemed to have no issues using a full-fledged feature back in the last half of the season.
Now introduce Bodie Reeder to the Mean Green offense after Graham Harrell’s departure for the bright lights of USC. Pro tip Graham, those bright lights ain’t the sunsets, its the dumpster fire you’ve crawled into. Reeder comes from Eastern Washington where he coached a thousand yard back in 2018, in part out of necessity when his starting quarterback went down with a season-ending injury.
In 2018 Reeder featured a back who garnered over 200 carries, and a running quarterback who nearly got to a 100 carries himself. The Eagles averaged over six yards a carry last season. In 2017, production dipped to below five yards a carry, and Eastern played a little more running back by committee.
If Torrey gets touches, he’s explosive. He’s proven as much by accounting for the fifth most rushes of ten yards or more in conference, in a smaller sample size than the top four of CUSA. He’s a home run threat when he steps on the field with runs of 96 and 92 yards.
We look forward to seeing what Torrey can do in a full season of production.