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Nov 23

420 pounds in eighth grade, Cajuns guard O’Cyrus Torrence didn’t wait to stand out – Daily Advertiser

Lift your spirits and take a look at UL's athletic fields as seen from the air through footage from Lafayette photography and videography company Viznu. Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Even in eighth grade, OCyrus Torrence was a hugedeal. At 6-foot-3 and 420 pounds, its hard not to be.

These days a trimmed-down Torrence carries about 332 pounds on a6-5 frame standingout for altogether different reasons. Starting at right guard for the No. 25 Ragin Cajuns, the sophomore already is a bona fide NFL prospect.

But before he becomingone, the big guyfroma small townhad to deal with what he was and decide what he wanted to be.

I had to get usedto the fact I was much biggerand I always felt out of place because I literally didnt fit in, Torrence said.But once I got to high school and started playing football, everything else really worked its way out because football gave me more confidence and helped me lose all the weight.

Now Cajun coaches and teammates too rave about all he does for UL (7-1, 5-1 Sun Belt), which after having Saturdays game against Central Arkansas canceled due to COVID-19 issues inside the program is scheduled to visit UL Monroe this coming Saturday (2 p.m., ESPN3).

Like Coach Looney would say, Hes a freak, starting center Shane Vallot said with reference to late offensive line assistant coach D.J. Looney, who died of a heart attack during a mini-camp workout in August. Hes a big dude. Hes a player.

He got thrown in as a freshman, and I would say he did a helluva job. He went out there, he competed. Hes a fighter. He doesnt give up. And he likes to learn.

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Torrence stepped right in when starting left guard Ken Marks tore up a knee in ULs 2019 season-opener against Mississippi State at the Superdome in New Orleans.

When I went down, I went up to him and I told him, You got this. He had a little nervous look in his eye, Marks said. But after a few plays he was good, and throughout the season he developed even more.

Coach just threw him in the fire, and he didnt bend, he didnt break, Cajuns quarterback Levi Lewis added. Some guys had ups and downs; I didnt see a down in Cybos game the whole season.

Was there ever any doubt?

Evidently not for someone whose nickname is the shortened version of one his mother Demetrice gave him as a kid Cyborg, a fictional superhero.

People didnt pick up on it, and somehow Cybo caught on, since its quicker, he said.

Whatever the name, he has game.

We knew he was a good player whenever he came in, Marks said. Just being coached by Coach (Rob) Sale and Coach Looney, we knew he was going to be all right.

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Shortly after signing with the Cajuns, the Class 2A All-State pick fromSt. Helena College & Career Academy in Greensburg a Louisiana map dot of 700 or so not quite 40 miles northeast of Baton Rouge received a workout manual.

Sale, ULs offensive coordinator/o-line coach, remembers Torrence, who receiveda late recruiting offer from Georgia to go with ones from Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss and South Alabama, doing everything to a T.

In the weight room. Running too.

And for a big man, Sale said, running is more important.

Youre big and strong, but can you maintain? Are you in shape to strain?

Offensive guard O'Cyrus Torrence (58) helps lead the Ragin' Cajuns run onto Cajun field for their Nov. 14 win over South Alabama.(Photo: Andre Broussard/Special to The Advertiser)

For Torrence, though, conditioning was no issue. What he did in high school carried over.

The hard work that comes with (playing) football and losing weight went hand-in-hand, he said,and it kept getting better and better from there.

But Torrence still had something to prove before playing his first college game.

Each step that first summer is a test Sale applies to determine just how ready each freshman is. He passed.

One day, practice it just clicked, Torrence said. Thats the best way I could put it.

One day I went to practice, I didnt know as much. I kept missing it during film. Then one day I went out there, I started understanding more of what Coach Sale was doing and what was happening on the field.

Sale noticed.

Soon, the show was on.

Once you start getting into it, after the first scrimmage, Sale said, youre like The guys gonna have a chance to play.

With Marks unavailable, Torrence had to. Sale and head coach Billy Napier didnt hesitate, though.

Obviously you love the kids size, speed, athleticism when youre watching the guy on tape, watching his high school film, Sale said last spring. But the way we structure our June and July (tells a lot).

A freshman typically has nine scheme installs in June, nine in July, nine in August preseason camp.

So Cybo had installs three times. And we two-spot everything, Sale said. So a true freshman gets the same amount of reps as the starting right guard would have gotten reps. So you can evaluate.

As Cajun coaches did, they became convinced.

By the time of the first game youve had a good body of work in practice, Sale said.

So you knew once you put him out there (against) Mississippi State you werent just rolling the dice. Because what you do in practice is what youre gonna do in a game. Its not just like, Oh, Im a gamer. No, no, no. It dont work like that.

It all worked out for the Cajuns last season, though.

Truth be told, however, Torrence initially just tried to keep up. It took all he had.

Of course I was nervous, he said, but I practiced for it and I was ready for it.

Then I started realizing my best was good enough.

Other people, they started noticing, Torrence added. I started seeing it too, but I tried to not buy too much into it and (tried) to remember what got me here.

UL wound up rushing for 3,604 yards 257.4 per game and 42 touchdowns as the 11-3 Cajuns won the Sun Belt ConferenceWest Division and the LendingTree Bowl.

Elijah Mitchell ran for 1,147 yards and 16 TDs. Raymond Calais Jr. now with the Los Angeles Rams rushed for 886 and averaged 7.6 yards per carry. Trey Ragas ran for 820 yards, averaging 7.1 per carry, and 11 TDs. Chris Smith, ULs No. 4 running back then, had 334.

It certainly wasnt all Torrences doing, but he was a huge part.

I wouldnt mind running inside zone behind him myself, UL strength and conditioning coach Mark Hocke joked. I might be able to get a yard or two behind him.

Offensive guard O'Cyrus Torrence (58, top) helps push the pile during UL's Nov. 7 win over Arkansas State at Cajun Field.(Photo: Andre Broussard/Special to The Advertiser)

By seasons end, Torrence was a 2019 Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American.

ULs line that year also featured NFL Draft picks Robert Hunt (Miami) and Kevin Dotson (Pittsburgh). But Hunt missed the seasons second half with an injury, so Max Mitchell wentfrom left tackle to right. Dotson started at left guard, and when he left Torrence seamlessly movedthere.

Cybo, hes a stud, Sale said.

Some people are better with the right hand down and on the right side than the left side. Cybos ambidextrous. He can both play guards, and he looks dang-good doing it.

Moving Torrence to the right reunited him with Max Mitchell, who now protects southpaw QB Lewis blindside.

We just work well with each other, Mitchell said.

Thats a large man beside me as well, so its pretty nice to move some people and being able to rely on him to take my inside gap, you know?

Ragas sure knows.

Its just like running behind Dotson, he said of Torrence at right guard. Its the same to me.

Which says a lot. Dotson was drafted in the fourth round, Hunt in the second.

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Torrence?

He humbly harbors hope of turning pro too, and its easy to understand why.

The sky is the limit for him, Max Mitchell said.

Hes handled his diet well. Hes strong. Hes athletic. The kid has all the football instinct in the world. He could definitely go, I think, first round by the end of this career here.

Torrence, however, didnt rest on freshman-season laurels.

I havent seen letup in his work ethic, Hocke said in the offseason.

Torrance has helped Senior Bowl invitee Elijah Mitchell rush for 563 yards over seven games this season. Ragas has 522 in eight, Smith another 290 on about half as many carries as the other two.

When UL beat Georgia State in September, Torrence was one of three Cajun captains.

Hes been one of the bright spots, Napier said.

Hes a guy who has the right mindset. Hes very intelligent. Hes very mature. Hes got great perspective on life. Hes a really good practice player. Hes one of the more disciplined kids we have, and hes becoming a leader.

Thats one of the things were challenging him to do, is to be more vocal, Napier added, because hes one of the guys that does it the right way and really sets an example.

Credibility is a byproduct of his hard work.

Sale and the late Looney, as Hocke sees it, toiled to develop him but built from a solid base.

Really the biggest person, reason, for his success is OCyrus himself, the strength coach said.

And it has little to do with those pounds hes accustomed to carrying.

No doubt you can watch him compete on a Saturday and see how special he is physically, how tough he is physically, Hocke said. But I think that all starts between the ears, right?

The way hes wired, the way he thinks; thats what makes him different from just about anybody and everybody, Hocke added. And thats why I think hes going to continue to have success.

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Right guard O'Cyrus Torrence sits in his stance during UL's win over UAB at Legion Field in Birmingham.(Photo: Brad Kemp/ragincajuns.com)

From seat of the Sale, who calls coaching guys like Ol Cybo why you do it, Torrence would have forced himself into freshman-season playing time even if Marks hadnt gotten hurt.

The injury simply accelerated things.

Then?

He just never looked back, Sale said.

Nor does Torrence ever sit still.

Starting center Vallot bragged in the summer about how the youngster would regularly text him about reviewing the weekly game plan.

Thebeautiful thing about Big Cybo is he wants to learn, sixth-year senior offensive lineman Cole Prudhomme said. He wants you to pour information, and hes just listening.

You tell him one thing, hell either get there right away or hell mess up one time then hell learn from that mistake. Hes so easy to coach and I think thats just amazing.

What we learned: No. 25 Louisiana 38, South Alabama 10

More: Secondary was a primary force in No. 25 Ragin' Cajuns' win over South Alabama

More: Balanced offense helps No. 25 Ragin' Cajuns run away from South Alabama

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420 pounds in eighth grade, Cajuns guard O'Cyrus Torrence didn't wait to stand out - Daily Advertiser

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