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UMass RB Gilberto Torres has stayed ready for his chance

  • UMass running back Gilberto Torres rushes during the Minutemen’s loss to Coastal Carolina on Sept. 21 at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. CHRIS EVANS/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/8/2019 9:00:58 PM
Modified: 11/8/2019 9:00:43 PM

AMHERST — Gilberto Torres knows who he is as a running back.

He’s that bruising pro-style running back who isn’t going to outrun the opposition or dance away tacklers in space. When he gets a handoff, Torres is going to barrel forward, and although he might not gain much, he isn’t going to lose yards either.

“The biggest thing is he knows what he’s good at and he knows what he’s not,” UMass running backs coach Fredi Knighten said. “When you see his runs, rarely does he ever go backwards. He might get one, he might get zero, but rarely is it ever a negative.”

Torres arrived last year as a walk-on linebacker after one season at Victor Valley College in California. He mostly played running back at junior college, but also played some linebacker, which is where the previous UMass coaching staff sent him last season. But Torres also acted as the scout team running back at times, opening the door for a conversation for coach Walt Bell.

With the Minutemen (1-8) thin at running back, Torres switched positions under the new staff — even if the roster didn’t reflect that change for most of the season. As running backs started to get injured or leave the program, Torres rose the depth chart.

By the end of Saturday’s loss against Liberty, he was getting a majority of the carries with Bilal Ally and Cam Roberson injured.

“I’m ready at all times,” Torres said. “I know we don’t have a lot of depth in the running back room ... whenever they call my name, I’m ready, I’m excited and I’m ready to go in there and run hard.”

Ally and Roberson are both questionable for Saturday’s noon game at Army, and if neither can go, it’ll likely be Torres trotting out with the starting offense at running back. UMass will need to take advantage of every possession opposite the time-consuming Army triple-option offense, so Torres’ consistency will be important.

Bell said he’s been happy with how Torres has attacked this season and how consistent he has worked no matter how large or small his role has been on a given week.

“He’s not a guy that has to get ready, he stays ready,” Bell said. “(It’s a) constant, every day drip against the rock, always preparing, doing everything he needs to do. It’s not always the biggest and the best, sometimes it’s the guy that lasts the longest that conquers. He’s doing a great job of persevering, hanging in there and when his time has come, he’s made the most of it.”

Torres’ commitment to the process has been more apparent as he has moved up the depth chart. He’s become more involved and active during film study in recent weeks as he is trying harder to improve and make himself a more reliable option in the backfield.

“He’s coming into the meeting room and he’s asking questions and he’s trying to gain knowledge of what we’re trying to do,” Knighten said. “These past couple of weeks, he’s really hunkered down and asked questions about what are we trying to do here and how am I supposed to do a better job of getting my job done. He’s done an unbelievable job with that.”

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