Auburn star is teacher and pupil

Reggie Torbor is a teacher on and off the field. Auburn's senior defensive end, who is as serious about helping his fellow classmates make a smooth transition from high school to college as he is with terrorizing opposing quarterbacks, has taken it upon himself to help newcomers to the university feel welcome and comfortable with their new surroundings.

After acclimating himself to life on campus as a freshman and sophomore, Torbor began teaching ''University Course 1000, The Auburn Experience.''

The class helps incoming freshmen with the adjustment process, providing the skills needed to cope with life at college.

''It's like a college introductory course,'' said Torbor, one of the leaders on what has been a strong defensive unit for the Tigers. ''It's about adjusting to college, life skills and how GPA works -- things like that. We talk about selecting majors and other things. I took the course, and later on the professor asked me if I would instruct it as a junior. I did that and enjoyed it.''

Evidently, Torbor earned a passing grade as a teacher.

''They (students) related well to me,'' he said. ''They appreciated it because I can relate to them. They weren't intimidated. We would joke around a lot, but we were also serious when it came time to be.''

Torbor, who already has graduated with a degree in criminology, also tries to teach the younger Tigers on the field. He is a team leader that leads by example. The Auburn coaching staff recognized Torbor's dedication during spring practice by naming him the recipient of the Eddie Welch Attitude and Effort Award. Torbor hopes his efforts help his teammates learn to remain focused on being the best they can be.

''A lot of people don't realize there is a difference between having good players and having a good team,'' he said. ''Sometimes you have the best players in the world, but if they are not playing well together they won't get it done. We talk about chemistry as being important.''

Torbor will try to instill in his teammates the importance of Saturday's game with Tennessee, a game that could help the Tigers rebuild their image as a potential SEC champion if they are able to knock off the Vols.

Auburn is looking to turn things around after an 0-2 start. The Tigers were picked by many to develop into a national championship contender.

''It will be the toughest test so far,'' Torbor said. ''They are a good team, as evidenced by their record. A win would be great for us.

''Right now our confidence is not as low as some people think it is. We lost two, but that's over with. We still have a lot of talent and chemistry. We are focused on getting on the right track. Our focus is still the SEC Championship.''

After losses to Southern Cal and Georgia Tech to open the season, the Tigers have won twice to even their record at 2-2.

''We've had two games to get on track,'' Torbor said. ''We have two wins under our belt, but we still have a long way to go. We are still making some mistakes, but they are correctable mistakes.

''We've got a lot of good senior leadership. People don't realize how much we put into this. The fans can jump off the band wagon, but we are in it for the long haul. We have had a lot of player meetings, and none of us wants it to go like it has. We are trying individually to fix ourselves, and that will fix the team.''

Perhaps labeling Auburn a top-five team that had a shot at a national title was a bit unfair to the Tigers.

''The magazines and newspapers saying all that -- that was done by the writers,'' Torbor said. ''Then we lost two games and they came back and acted like we wrote those stories. They are the ones that misjudged things. We have tried to stay level-headed about it.

''As a team, you just try to win every game and not worry about what people say. We try not to look at the newspapers. We stay together as a team and a family.''

Fan support has been maintained despite the two early losses, Torbor said.

''There are a few fair weather fans, but most of them are great,'' he said. ''We had more fans at the Vanderbilt game than Vanderbilt did. That says a lot because were 0-2. We appreciate that.''

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who questioned the sanity of writers picking Auburn to win it all, has continually told the Tigers that they can still be a great football team.

''He tells us that the effort is there, but we are making too many mistakes,'' Torbor said. ''We have been shooting ourselves in the foot. A missed block here or there, or a missed assignment on defense. It's all correctable.''

Heading into Saturday's game, the Tigers still have the same lofty aspirations for the season.

''Our goal has not changed,'' Torbor said. ''We want to win the SEC West, then the SEC Championship. The rest will take care of itself. Those are still our goals.''

For the Auburn defensive unit, the goal is to return to the late-season form that made the Tigers' unit one of the nation's best last year. Auburn currently is allowing just 237 yards per game.

''We aren't playing as good as we did toward the end of last year,'' Torbor said. ''When we get things solidified, we can be great.''

Torbor knows stopping the running attack will be the key to beating Tennessee.

''They have a great running game,'' he said. ''That's what they stress. Our philosophy is, if we can stop the run we have a better chance to win.''

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