Gators’ country strong O’Cyrus Torrence is a player NFL teams will love, coaches say

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Offensive lineman O’Cyrus Torrence stands in a second-floor hallway at the University of Florida Football Training Center, arms stretched out to the sides. The point here isn’t measuring the range of a future NFL draft pick, but rather reminiscing with assistant Jabbar Juluke on a home visit in the fall of 2018 when the boy named “Cybo” was able to touch the side walls of a cramped trailer he shared with his mother, grandmother and three siblings.

“He had to duck his head to get in that trailer,” recalled Juluke, who was then a staffer in Louisiana trying to sign an obscure prospect from Greensburg, Louisiana, of little more than 700 residents. When he found a boy like Torrence the recruitment process seemed difficult, finding the trailer in the woods where he lived proved more of a challenge, even for a home state coach like Juluke who knew almost every corner of every community.

“There is land, but Greensburg is countrysaid Juluke, who has lived, played and trained in the state for half a century and thought he knew his stuff.

“In the middle of nowhere,” said Torrence, who eventually got out on the street that day and stopped the car with Juluke and fellow Louisiana resident DJ Looney.

Sitting in the trailer, they warmed to the boy’s modesty, his reasonable expectations, his authenticity. Without one iota of claim, Torrence discussed a late offer from Georgia to sign him as a nose tackle, but reiterated how comfortable he was as a blocker, how he believed playing the offensive line was key “to get the football.” to get as far as it could go.”

It took him to Lafayette, where he became a freshman All-America and an All-Sun Belt selection. He then moved to Florida, where he proved SEC-worthy that season. Now he’s on the verge of bringing him to the NFL as a high-round draft pick.

“He’s about to buy his grandmother a big old house,” Juluke said.

Torrence’s face lights up about a future in which he will help his mother Demetrice, whom he refers to as “my rock”, and grandmother, whom he calls “mommy”. Maybe he’ll buy them a spot in Greensburg, or maybe they’ll join him wherever the NFL is waiting for them. Whatever they want, whatever they need, he’s prepared to provide it.

The arms that can span that trailer are now wrapped around the family and coaches who believed in him.

O’Cyrus Torrence hugs coach Billy Napier during Senior Day. (Hannah White/UAA Communications)

‘Damn, this kid is going to be fine’

Florida assistant Rob Sale cuts the figure of the consummate offense coach, with calves that could serve as a bridge and a no-BS demeanor for searing types who slack off in practice.

However, get him to talk about Torrence and Sale’s voice breaks.

“I owe Cybo a lot. He’s the reason you love working out,” Sale said, and his eyes closed. “He’s behind you and you’re behind him. I would run through a wall for him.”

As part of the team that signed Torrence in 2019, Sale’s first encounter at St. Helena Academy saw the Ragin Cajuns get a “big, strong guy” who was capable of contributing early – although the boy was not among the top 1,600 recruits in the 247 Sports Composite. When Torrence enlisted the following August, it only took a few preseason practices to get Sale’s expectations skyrocketing. “As soon as I get my hands on them for a week or two, I can start saying what you’re really working with,” he said. “And with Cybo, you could see straight away that this kid was going to be good.”

Sales hammered a chorus home for the kid — “Practice like a starter” — and in Week 2 of his freshman season, Torrence actually started for Louisiana at left, holding his own on a line that put Robert Hunt out of the NFL’s second round and fourth-rounder Kevin Dotson, players who have combined 57 starts for the Dolphins and Steelers.

Torrence joked about being “just good enough to stay out of Sale’s line of fire” when it came to that blistering practice field. A natural run blocker, he admitted that taking on pass protection — identifying the Mike linebacker and learning how to slide — was more complicated. During games, Torrence could rely on the center to point out assignments for him, but such assistance was forbidden in practice as Sale essentially used pop quizzes to determine what the freshman knew. “Sometimes I screwed up and he yelled at me,” Torrence said. “But it always came from a place of love.”

The pass-pro lessons apparently lasted considering Torrence hasn’t allowed a sack in Louisiana in three years. Sale spent the 2021 season with the New York Giants before reuniting with head coach Billy Napier in Florida, where they prioritized Torrence as a valuable transfer.

Napier had played a pivotal role in recruiting in Louisiana, and throughout Torrence’s high school season, they shared Thursday night calls that involved football and family, rarely in that order. It became such a ritual that Torrence felt it only fitting to call Napier on a Thursday to tell him of his commitment.

Three years later, a swarm of Power 5 schools stalked Torrence on the portal, though none of them could compromise the long-standing relationships he shared with Napier, Sale, Juluke and other associates building a winner in Louisiana. So he joined the Gators, with one caveat: nationally hailed as a top-notch pickup, internally hailed as the third stringer on the depth chart.

“It was weird. I hadn’t been in the third row since my freshman year of high school, but the coaches didn’t want to show any favoritism,” he said.

Sale never had any doubts about Torrence’s ability to star in Florida. He just wanted the new teammates to come to their own realization. “You must earn the respect of your room. You can’t just stick a guy in from day 1 or you’d lose everyone,” Sale said. “You have to show them over time that he’s the best player and it has to be 100 per cent obvious to the guys in the room.

“I told Cybo he had to earn it, and he did.”

Through 10 starts — Torrence missed the Oct. 15 loss to LSU with a tense MCL — he has led an offense that ranks No. 2 nationally with a 5.86 year per carry and 15th in permitted sacks.

Week after week, Torrence has confirmed to a number of able-bodied SEC defenders that he can block them at a high level.

“I like the challenge of playing these guys,” he said. “I go into my stance and I’m happy.

At 6ft 5 and 347 pounds, Torrence has the leanest muscle mass on the team, according to offensive line coach Rob Sale. (Maddie Washburn / UAA Communications)

athleticism and discipline

The occasional salmon days at the Louisiana Athletic Dining Hall were important to Torrence because he could take fish home to his cat, Cee-Cee. Updated Florida resources include Tuna Packs that players can grab at any time. So Cee-Cee agrees to the move.

The more noticeable perks of the new $85 million soccer facility go well beyond Starkist.

“You have a sleep tank, a hyperbaric chamber, a cold tub — but we tell young people that none of that is worth a dang unless you use it,” Sale said. “Cybo is immersed in all of that.” That includes working with Kelsee Gomes, the director of sports nutrition for the football program. “Nobody’s in Miss Kelsee’s back pocket like Cybo. He uses everything and really works on his body.”

According to Sale, Torrence has the leanest muscle mass on the team at 6ft 5 and 347 pounds. That’s a notable turn of events when Torrence was an obese eighth grader in Greensburg and weighed over 400 pounds. He hadn’t started playing football yet, but a lucky trip to detention forced him to speak to the high school coach. They talked about Torrence needing to eat better and lose weight to live a healthy life.

“I decided I’m going to do it and I used football as an excuse to just go out there and lose the weight,” he said. “Then I found out that I really love football.”

Although he still has some loose skin around his stomach, a reminder of his 400-pound days, Torrence has maintained a consistent weight throughout college. “NFL teams ask if he’s a get up and lose guy, but he’s been around 335-340 since I’ve known him,” Sale said.

Torrence rarely touches candy in the dining room, and when he does, he assures Sale it’s “just a taster.”

This mix of big-man athletics and self-discipline is why Sale projects Torrence as an All-Pro guard.

“Those who play a long time in the league are different – football is not just a hobby for them,” said Sale. “When it comes to training, nutrition, film studies and practice, they are committed.

“I never had a chance to put my foot up his ass and tell him to move. There are no bad days at Cybo. He plays sometimes when he’s not feeling well, but you don’t know. He is easy to train.”

Torrence’s ZERO earnings that year have been passed down to family. Along with the money he sent his grandmother, he helped his mother pay rent to move to a safer area of ​​New Orleans near where she worked. The most extravagant edition? “A pretty big TV” for his mom to watch the Gators games. She is afraid of flying and cannot make the 16 hour round trip to Gainesville.

“Now she has a nice facility at home where she can cook and watch all our games and be in her element,” Torrence said.

the athleteDraft analyst Dane Brugler recently listed Torrence as the No. 27 pick in the 2023 draft, a slot that would include a multi-year, $12 million rookie contract. The player who didn’t have enough money to have his gameday suits pressed in Louisiana will soon achieve NFL riches.

“He’s not going to buy a bunch of flashy stuff,” Sale said. “He’ll be level-headed, and I’m not worried about him going anywhere from New York to Houston. It’s like a garfish – it can thrive anywhere.

“He’s a stud and you love him because he cares about the right things. Whatever organization gets it, the O-line room and everyone on the team will love it.”

(Photo above: Tim Casey / UAA Communications)