Defensive End Pushing Hard During Offseason

Junior Reggie Torbor is preparing for a season in which he is expected to be a key performer for the Auburn football Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn defensive end Reggie Torbor says he has learned many lessons on the football field during his three falls on the plains.

The redshirt junior says the most valuable lesson he has learned is that the old saying, "Things are never as bad as they seem," is an important concept for a college athlete or any college student to learn.

"That is the number one thing," says Torbor, who is expected to be Auburn's number one defensive end this season. He is also the veteran at the position by default because everyone else who has played defensive end is gone. Because of that, there are some serious concerns about the ability of the defensive ends to get the job this season for the Tigers. However, if Torbor is one of those worrying, he is doing a good job of keeping it disguised.

Reggie Torbor

After spending his first fall as a redshirt and the next two as a part-time starter, Torbor says the secret to success on or off the field is to keep on plugging away, even when things are not going your way. "You catch so many guys that get down on themselves and you think that you are the only one going through something," he says. "Especially being a student-athlete, in any sport, not just football, you've got to go to class and go to practice and your schedule is so demanding that you just want to go home. A lot of people quit and things, but there is always a better day."

While it is true the defensive ends as a group had some struggles in spring drills and one of them (freshman Brian Kuhn) quit and went home, Torbor suggests that better days are on the horizon for the Tigers at that position. "We definitely have a lot of work to do between now and September 2nd, especially as a unit overall," he says. "But I don't think that we'll be a weak point. It's just a challenge and we have to step up.

"Last year we had the luxury of bringing everybody back, but we have to reload this year and just work. We're not going to accept that we're inexperienced and be the weak link of this team. We're going to handle our part."

The Tigers must replace seniors James Callier, Javor Mills and Alton Moore. To help fill the gap, redshirt sophomore tight end Jay Ratliff has been moved to strongside end to compete with Bret Eddins for a starting job. Torbor is the strong number one at weakside end ahead of redshirt freshman Steven Bouldin.

A pair of 2002 signees have already arrived in Auburn and they work out with Torbor and the other defensive linemen in the afternoons as a group on the football practice fields with the older players like Torbor supervising the workouts. Freshmen Ben Grubbs from Elmore County High in Eclectic and Kyle Derozan from Point Coupee Central High in Morganza, La., will be counted on to add depth this fall.

Torbor tells Inside the Auburn Tigers that he remembers playing on another inexperienced defensive line at Auburn. "When I first got here and I first started playing it was me and a couple of other guys who had never played before," he says. "And they were saying that me, DeMarco (McNeil) and all of us would be the weak unit, and we were supposed to be the worst D-line in the country. But we did pretty good, you know."

The 2000 team's defensive front certainly did "pretty good" for a group that was starting two redshirt freshmen, Torbor and McNeil, and giving significant playing time to a true freshman, Spencer Johnson. The Tigers finished the season ranked third in the SEC in rushing defense, fourth in scoring defense, fifth in passing defense and third in total defense.

Reggie Torbor is shown at practice last season. He played in all 12 games as a reserve and started 11 times in 2000.

Torbor says he thinks new defensive coordinator Gene Chizik's scheme has already played a huge role in bringing the current group together. "I think it has helped our defense become more of like a family atmosphere," he says. "You have so much fun. It's just attacking and getting after people. We just can't wait to see it work on September 2nd." The Tigers open the season that evening on national TV vs. Southern Cal in Los Angeles.

Torbor says the changes that Chizik has made in the defensive scheme will personally give him an opportunity to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. "Last year it was hard for me to get off and they would have a tight end over there," Torbor explains. "And now I go away from the tight end so there is only one person who can block me and that is the tackle.

"Last year by the time I had beat two people I'd get right in his (the quarterback's) face and the ball would just be thrown so I think Coach Chizik's new scheme will give me the extra step that I need. Not only that, but now we blitz all of our linebackers and we have a bunch of them. So they're (the opposing offensive linemen) are going to have to watch them and that will kind of take the focus off of me some, too."

The redshirt junior defensive end has made strides at his position since coming to Auburn after having played running back, linebacker and safety at Lee High in Baton Rouge, La. "I'm a long way from when I first got here," says Torbor, who has gained around 40 pounds since arriving on campus. "I was trying to learn so much and now the guys that I used to look up to, that's me to the younger guys now."

Confident in his grasp of the new defense and the big picture as a collegian, Torbor says he is doing his best to try to help the younger defensive ends in their afternoon learning sessions. In football, the only offseason on-the-field instruction allowed is during spring drills. That is why Torbor and the veteran defensive linemen like DeMarco McNeil are coaching the younger players this summer.

"You can teach someone all you want, but until you get out there on the field it is just different," Torbor notes. "There is a big difference when a coach tells you something and a teammate tells you something. It's more of a laid back atmosphere with the teammate. The pressure is off and it is really easy to learn. So I feel like I help the young guys out a lot."

Torbor battles offensive tackle Ryan Broome in spring drills this year. Torbor made 30 tackles last season, including five for losses with 2.5 sacks.

Torbor is also teaching his younger teammates that hard work pays dividends. Even in the summer, normally not the busiest time of year for a college football player, the redshirt junior is on the run. "I get up every morning at 4:40 a.m. to go to the 5:30 workout," he says. "Then I go to class from nine to one." Torbor is taking a class called Great Books One this half semester and will take Great Books Two in the next half semester and he is taking a statistics class that runs all summer.

He works out with the other defensive linemen in the afternoons and then hits the books. "I go home and read about 60 pages a night and by the time I do that it's about time to get up and go to bed. You can't stay up too late to get up at 4:40."

Torbor's extensive workout schedule has really improved his bulk since coming to Auburn as a freshman. And the progress that he has made is evident in his solid 250 pound frame. However, he says he still has work to do over the summer.

"I'm close to 250 right now, but I'm trying to get up over 255," Torbor explains about the difficulties of gaining weight. "It's kind of hard to get over that last little hump. I want to play at 250, but I usually lose weight during two a days. So if I get up to 255 that will give me five pounds to play with."

Torbor says he is excited about being a part of the 2002 team that returns virtually the entire defense with the exception of the ends. "I think we have the chance to be one of the best defenses in the nation," he says. "As a team we want to win the West and go to the SEC (championship game) and win that game. Not just make it. We've been there before and now it is time to win and go to a big bowl game--whatever bowl game we could end up anywhere. We just want to do that and beat Alabama."

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