Torrey 10 things lead

North Texas running back DeAndre Torrey celebrates after scoring during a game at Apogee Stadium.

North Texas is expected to have one of the best teams in Conference USA this fall, and maybe one of its best in recent program history.

There are plenty of reasons that is the case from the return of head coach Seth Littrell to the talent of quarterback Mason Fine, the two-time C-USA offensive player of the year.

But there is more to UNT’s team than just its coach and star player.

The Mean Green have several other talented veterans who will fill key roles this fall, including DeAndre Torrey.

Here are 10 things you might not know about the Mean Green’s star running back:

1. Torrey is coming off an impressive sophomore season

Torrey flew a little under the radar last season at UNT. That’s understandable considering the Mean Green featured C-USA’s best quarterback in Fine, one of the league’s top NFL prospects in linebacker E.J. Ejiya and a couple of elite wide receivers in Rico Bussey Jr. and Jalen Guyton.

When one looks at what Torrey accomplished last season, it’s apparent that his contributions were an overlooked aspect of UNT’s success.

The Mean Green entered the season looking for a way to replace star running back Jeffery Wilson, who is now with the San Francisco 49ers.

Torrey emerged as the Mean Green’s best option and rushed for 977 yards and scored a team-high 18 touchdowns.

2. Littrell made a late decision to recruit Torrey

All college coaching staffs lay out plans for recruiting classes in terms of how many players they intend to sign at each position.

UNT’s changed those plans for its 2018 class once Littrell and his staff got a glimpse of Torrey. The 191-pound speedster was highly productive at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he rushed for 1,298 yards and 12 touchdowns in just nine games as a freshman in 2017.

Torrey was also offered a scholarship by Troy and South Alabama before signing with UNT.

3. The Georgia native has a unique background among UNT players

Torrey stands out among UNT players because of his background in addition to his talent.

The Mean Green focus their recruiting efforts in Texas. Torrey grew up in Gautier, Mississippi, before his short stint in junior college.

UNT has just 12 players on its roster who are not from either Texas or Oklahoma.

4. Torrey was a rare JC transfer with three years of eligibility

One of the reasons UNT was so intrigued by Torrey during his time in junior college is because he only needed to spend one season at that level before transferring to play at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

Torrey was a full qualifier academically out of high school in Gautier. He went to junior college to improve his options in terms of where he could continue his college career.

Torrey 10 things TD

North Texas running back DeAndre Torrey (13) breaks a tackle as he heads for the end zone during the Mean Green's loss to Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl last season.

5. Torrey scored more touchdowns than just about anyone in major college football last season

Torrey showed a nose for the end zone in his first season at UNT, when he piled up 18 total touchdowns.

He scored 15 rushing touchdowns, caught two touchdown passes and returned a kickoff for another score last season.

Only six players scored more touchdowns than Torrey last season at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, including Clemson running back Travis Etienne and Texas A&M running back Trayveon Williams. 

6. The departure of Tashard Choice leaves Torrey looking for a new mentor

Torrey credited his success last season in part to former UNT running backs coach Tashard Choice. The former Cowboys running back developed a rapport with Torrey and pushed him to capitalize on his potential.

Choice left UNT after last season to become the running backs coach at Georgia Tech, his alma mater.

Torrey will look to develop a similar relationship with Patrick Cobbs. The UNT Hall of Fame running back took over as the Mean Green’s running backs coach in the offseason.

7. Torrey was one of UNT’s most explosive players last season

Torrey gained 51.5% of his yards last season on runs of at least 15 yards, the top total among Conference USA running backs, according to Pro Football Focus.

Torrey isn’t the biggest running back out there but is quick and has breakaway speed.

8. Torrey broke off a TD run last fall that had a dramatic impact on two teams’ seasons

Torrey displayed his breakaway speed on a play that helped UNT pull out a win that dramatically impacted two teams’ seasons in 2018.

The Mean Green were locked in a tight game with Florida Atlantic in a rematch of the 2017 Conference USA title game on Nov. 15 at Apogee Stadium.

UNT led 34-31 with 4:21 remaining but was pinned at its 8-yard line. FAU brought a blitz. The Mean Green had the perfect play called when it handed the ball to Torrey, who broke free for a 92-yard touchdown.

UNT picked up its eighth win of the season, while FAU left Apogee stuck at five wins. The Mean Green went on to finish 9-4. FAU never recovered from its loss to UNT, dropped its season finale against Charlotte and missed the bowl season after finishing 5-7.

Torrey was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Owls.

9. The best games of Torrey’s season all came late in the year

Torrey was having a solid debut season at UNT through the first five games of the year, when he rushed for 128 yards and four touchdowns.

It was the rest of the season that set Torrey apart. He rushed for at least 130 yards in each of UNT’s last four regular season games.

10. Torrey is also a great kick returner

While Torrey is best known for his exploits as a running back, that is not the only way in which he contributed to the Mean Green’s success last season. He was also a standout kick returner.

Torrey returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in UNT’s win over SMU and averaged 27.5 yards on 12 returns.

Torrey would have ranked second in C-USA in kick return average behind Kerrith Whyte of FAU if he had enough returns to qualify for the league leaders but had just 12 attempts on the year.

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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