DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Freshman cornerback Richard Torres has made an impression with excellent technique.
Torres has technique down
Although Richard Torres is in his first spring with the Hawaii football team, the freshman cornerback's already been around long enough to have a nickname stick.
"We call him, 'The Technician,' " senior safety Keao Monteilh said, "because his technique is by far one of the best out of all of our DBs. He does everything right."
As one of the smallest members of the Warriors roster, playing with the big guys means doing all of the little things right for the former Kahuku quarterback.
"I'm not that fast, so I have to do as much as I can to make me faster," Torres said. "Whatever technique can do to make me better, I have to try to perfect that."
Torres, the son of Red Raiders coach Reggie Torres, checked in for spring practice at 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds but has impressed his teammates and coaches with his execution and delivered one of the big plays of a scrimmage controlled by the defense yesterday morning at the UH practice field.
With the Warriors defense rolling in the second, third and fourth units for the full-contact period to close practice, Torres, playing with the third team, found himself opposite 6-foot-2 receiver Greg Salas on a play early in the scrimmage. Torres wrapped up Salas after a short completion along the sideline and knocked the ball free as his teammates came over to help out. Safety Spencer Smith then came along to scoop it up for the defense.
"His technique is impeccable," defensive backs coach Rich Miano said. "I wish all the guys had that kind of technique, and he has the wrestling background, so he's tough. He understands work ethic. He's the first one out here at 6 o'clock in the morning and then he's the last one to leave."
Torres, a standout in wrestling and judo at Kahuku, joined the UH program this spring as a grayshirt and hadn't been in a live contact setting since closing out his senior season with the Red Raiders.
"I was a little nervous I was going to get run over or something, but after the first hit you just relax," said Torres.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Torres, right, stuck with receiver Daniel Lofton on this play during the scrimmage at UH practice yesterday.
Torres has time to work on improving his speed and strength as he begins his UH career, and his hustle and attention to detail remind the returning Warriors of Guyton Galdeira, another undersized defensive back who developed into a vital member of UH's special teams units and a contributor in the secondary as a cornerback and nickel back.
"I can use that in my films for these guys who are maybe a little taller, maybe a little faster," Miano said. "Why is (Torres) successful? If you get the technique that this kid has, that's a perfect combination."
Torres got a rise out of his fellow defensive backs for another reason in Thursday's position meeting when he showed up with his flowing locks shorn away.
"I just wanted to," he said. "After practice I shaved my head and I came back to the meeting and everyone was like 'whoa.' It's a lot cooler."
While Torres has taken a place with the third unit two weeks into his first spring, other members of the secondary have moved up the depth chart as well.
Sophomore Mana Silva, a quarterback and receiver at Oregon State as a freshman, has been elevated to the second unit at safety alongside Dane Porlas.
"Mana's showing if he knows what he's doing -- and he's learning more and more -- he can make a lot of plays for us," Miano said. "And he's got the body type of a prototype strong safety."
While senior Ryan Mouton has one cornerback spot locked up so far, the other side is shaping up to be a tight three-way battle. JoPierre Davis has been starting opposite Mouton with the first team, but Jameel Dowling and senior Calvin Roberts are closing fast.
When the Warriors put in their nickel package, Mouton moved inside with Dowling, a 6-foot-3 senior transfer from Oregon, replacing him at corner.
Mouton and Davis both came down with interceptions during the team period yesterday and Roberts broke up a pass.
"Those three guys (Davis, Dowling and Roberts) are all very good and it's going to come back to who's the most consistent and right now Calvin's the most consistent," Miano said.