Devoe Torrence was always considered a lock to follow his older brother, Devon, to Ohio State and join him on the Buckeye football team. Even those closest to him were shocked to hear him proclaim Michigan as his recruiting leader in mid-February. Within three weeks, though, Torrence did indeed commit to Jim Tressel and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Why did Torrence decide to cast his lot with the Buckeyes so soon after feeling the Michigan love?
"In the end, I needed to be with my brother at Ohio State," DeVoe explained. "I liked the way Michigan was recruiting me and I really liked Lloyd Carr a lot. They kind of turned my head and a part of me thought that maybe I could make my own mark away from Ohio State. When I really thought about it seriously, I just knew that I loved Ohio State and I wanted to keep our family together. I was serious about Michigan for a short while, but it's so important to Devon and I to be the first brothers from Stark County to play together at Ohio State.I guess I really couldn't see myself playing for Michigan when I got right down to it. No second thoughts at all. I know I made the right choice."
Torrence raised eyebrows across the state of Ohio by transferring from Canton South, where he was All-Ohio, to the storied program at Massillon. He has been roundly criticized for the move, but he takes it in stride and has never looked back on his decision.
"I like it over here, but it's hard sometimes," Torrence admitted. "There's a lot of pressure, but I like that and I'm ready to take the criticism when we lose. It was my decision to come here, so I've got to be a man and step up my game so we don't lose another game. I get criticized by people who think I'm refusing to play linebacker, but that's not true. I'm getting the ball 30 to 40 times a game, and they want me fresh to play offense. At Canton South I only got the ball about 10 times a game, but here I get it 10 times a quarter. It's really hard to go both ways when you carry the ball that much."
Still, Torrence doesn't rule out playing on both sides of the football for Ohio State next year. His defensive choice of positions might be a surprise to Buckeye fans, though.
"I'm a tailback at Ohio State all the way," he said. "I'd like to play safety a little bit, if they would let me. I weigh 210 pounds right now and I hope to play at 220 pounds next year. I think I could help stop the running game as a safety for a few plays per game. If a good wide receiver was hurting us in a game by going across the middle, I could go in at safety and bust him up a few times. That would stop him from wanting to go across the middle anymore. I might mention that to Coach [Jim] Heacock when I see him. I doubt that Coach [Jim] Tressel would go for it, but I'd give it a try."
Torrence has been the subject of some questioning of whether Ohio State "promised" him he would be the only tailback they would recruit in 2008, if he would commit early. Torrence has alternately confirmed, and later denied, that such a promise was made. He now spoke for the record about what was said and why he issued such conflicting statements.
"Yes, Ohio State did tell me if I would commit soon that they would not recruit another tailback," Torrence stated for the record. "I didn't know if Ohio State wanted me to mention that, so I wasn't sure what to tell people about it when they asked me. Also, I never asked for Ohio State to do that, and I never wanted people to think I demanded that. It came from [running backs coach] "Doc" Tressel, and it meant a lot to me, but that wasn't why I committed to Ohio State. I'm not afraid of competition and I wouldn't care if they brought in two or three more running backs. It made me feel real good that they wanted me so bad."
Torrence admitted that the thought of playing for "Doc" Tressel is exciting to him. He also spoke of his relationship with Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel.
"I really like "Doc" a lot," Torrence said. "He's sweet. I like the way he gets all hyper and starts yelling and getting the backs all fired up and stuff. He comes to Massillon and checks up on me all the time. He always talks with Coach [Tom] Stacy about my grades and how I'm doing on the field. I'm ready to learn more about being a great tailback from him. Chris Wells has told me he's a great coach.'
"Jim Tressel is a lot like his brother, and I think he's a great head coach. He told me how great it is for him to have his brother on the staff. He said it will be the same for me, to be with Devon at Ohio State. Coach [Jim] Tressel is such a great coach and Devon is always telling me how good this coaching staff is and how they're always ready for everything they see, week after week. I know I have a lot to learn, but I'm ready to put the time in. The Ohio State staff is going to help me get better."
Last weekend was the first Ohio State game that Torrence has been able to attend this year. He had a great time hanging out with his fellow "Brew Crew" members. He shared his thoughts on Ohio State's chances at landing Maryland star Lamaar Thomas, who was there on an unofficial visit.
"It was great seeing all of my boys again," Torrence admitted. "Big Mike [Adams] and Devier Posey were the two guys I hung out with the most. I'm hoping to room with Devier next year. I need to keep Devier away from Adams and [Mike] Brewster, because those dudes stay out too late and never want to go to sleep. Skill players need to get their rest, so I'll keep Devier away from the big guys.'
"I know Lamaar Thomas had a great time. I saw that dude in camp and he can fly. He is really fast and he's got a strong body too. Plus, Thomas is a really nice kid. He is a talkative kid and he's always smiling and laughing. We were joking around with him and telling him he needed to be here with us. I think we have a good shot at getting him, and I really hope we do. Come to think of it, I think we got him. I really do, because there's no way anyone could choose Illinois over Ohio State. No way."
Torrence has obviously connected with the other Ohio State commits, and gave his thoughts on some of his future teammates.
"Mike Adams is the first guy I really got to know in this class, and he's a great friend," Torrence said. "When we go to games, Big Mike is always being real studious about each play, always predicting what play a team will run against a certain defense. We all tell him to just be quiet and let us watch the game, and then we all start laughing. He knows we're kidding around with him. When I first met him, I remember thinking how huge he is. I didn't know how good he was, but I sure knew how big he was. People don't know how goofy and how funny he is. He's like a big teddy bear and he's a good guy to have as a friend.'
"I met Jake [Stoneburner] through Mike, and I told my buddies at Canton McKinley that Jake was going to ball all over them in the scrimmage that they had, and he did too. I've seen film on Devier and he and Jake are going to be unstoppable. He is so smooth and runs great routes. I also like the little dude, Ben Buchanan, a lot. Mike Adams told me he's the best kicker in America. I like that he plays wide receiver in high school, and is a tough kid. He's a very nice kid, too, and he's a very friendly guy. I don't know the linebacker, Andrew Sweat, real well. He always looks real mean, like he's ready to get into a fight or something. You can tell he's a bad dude. I can't wait to see him wax somebody out on the field.'
"All of us recruits talk all the time about being ready to go next year. We know we need to come to camp in the best shape of our lives and be ready, from a mental standpoint, to compete for playing time. We want our class to make its mark at Ohio State next year. I don't want to red-shirt next year, but we'll just have to see what happens."
Torrence is coming off his best game of his senior season, rushing for 283 yards, and scoring four touchdowns against a great Mentor team. He talked about his performance in that game.
"I guess I did okay," he admitted reluctantly. "Our line was great all night long. They opened huge holes, like the Red Sea parting, and all I had to do was get into the secondary and make plays. Losing that game was a real killer for us. I don't care about stats, or winning Mr. Football, or anything like that. All I want to do is win, and we didn't do that. I cared about stats back in middle school, but I'm past that. All I want to do is win, and I don't care how many carries I get, or how many yards I gain."
No story on the 2008 Ohio State recruiting class would be complete without a commentary on Michael Brewster, the player most responsible for helping put together this fantastic class. It's a given that the label "Brew Crew" is such a perfect nickname.
"I know Michael Brewster and he's silly," Torrence said with a laugh. "Him and Big Mike Adams are always picking on me, because I'm so much smaller than those dudes. Brewster is ALWAYS on his phone. He was calling me back this winter and I didn't even know who the dude was. I would hang up on him, because I thought he was some nut, always talking about us going to Ohio State together. I was always wondering who he was, because we had never even met, but he was still calling me and acting like were best friends and stuff. He sends text messages all the time, to everybody. He's always on that Blackberry of his. Seriously, Brewster is the leader of the group, along with Mike Adams. Brewster is a lot louder, but everybody respects both of them a lot. I'm glad Mike Brewster is as Buckeye."
DeVoe Torrence also wanted to mention how proud he is of his older brother, Devon. The Torrence brothers are very close, and very competitive amongst one another. DeVoe said he gets a lot of satisfaction seeing his brother perform at Ohio State as a true freshman.
"I talked with him last night, and he wishes he could get more playing time, but he understands how great Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline are playing," Torrence said. "I always kid around with him and tell him he looks slow and he's not quick enough coming out of his cuts, but he doesn't fall for it. He knows me too well, and he knows how I'm always goofing around. I'm really proud of my brother, and it will be great for us to get back together again next year. I think Ohio State might go undefeated this year, and Devon might get a national championship ring in his first year. That would be sweet."
It's also very sweet to see, once again, another 2008 Ohio State recruit raving about his future teammates. Certainly Jim Tressel has to be smiling when he thinks about adding his 2008 recruiting class to the talent returning to Ohio State next season. Join us again tomorrow when we'll take another inside look at the "Making of the Brew Crew."