LINCOLN — The athletic department at San Antonio Southside High School was abuzz Thursday morning with the big news: Quarterback Richard Torres got a scholarship offer from Nebraska.
A power-conference program, Southside coach Ricky Lock said, hasn’t signed a player out of Southside since the late 1970s, when a defensive lineman signed with old Southwest Conference member Rice. Since then, it’s been lower-division schools and the occasional FBS signing, like Wyoming and Air Force.
So Torres’ offer, delivered over the phone by Nebraska coach Scott Frost, was special for the school, too.
“We’re just tickled to death,” Lock said. “Everybody’s just kind of excited today, looking at each other, smiling. Richard’s excited, his parents are excited, everything. It’s really good. Happy for him.”
Torres spent the past 24 hours researching everything he could find on Husker football, Lock said. The history of the program. The size and passion of the fan base. He even got on the phone with Nebraska’s last quarterback from the San Antonio area, Tommy Armstrong, who started for four seasons at NU. Armstrong, connected to a person helping Torres get recruiting attention, put in a strong word for Nebraska, Lock said.
Lock put in a strong word for his 6-foot-6, 210-pound quarterback, who has “flown under the radar” as a prospect because of Southside’s low profile and because COVID-19 shut down camps and school visits since last March. Torres is a good athlete who can escape a pass rush, has good grades, leads well and also plays point guard on the basketball team.
And then there’s Torres’ arm strength.
“He’s throws it over 70 yards,” Lock said. “He throws a football forever. He can make every throw under the sun. He throws the deep outs, the opposite hash outs, and the opposite hash corner, he can make those, put ‘em on a line, or with air, whatever you want.”
Torres threw for 1,149 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions in a COVID-shortened season, Lock said. Southside led by so much in many games that Torres, in total, might have played between four and five full games. Long expects the quarterback will eventually be 6-7 and 235 pounds.
He clearly impressed Nebraska’s coaches, who had “done their homework and watched a lot of tape” of Torres before offering, Lock said. Frost compared Torres to a quarterback he had recruited to Oregon, Justin Herbert, before Frost left for the head coaching job at Central Florida. Herbert, 6-6 and 215 out of high school, was the offensive rookie of the year in the NFL.
“Nebraska’s offensive scheme fits right to Richard’s skill set. It’d be a tremendous match, after looking at their offense and the highlights,” Lock said.
Southside had previously been a “running” team, but Torres’ talent “transformed” the offense. Southside will use a spread passing attack in 2021.
Torres’ only other scholarship offer is hometown Texas-San Antonio, but it is not uncommon, once NU offers a quarterback, for other schools to extend their own scholarship offers. Nebraska was first in line for Logan Smothers, who committed to the Huskers in 2018 and then spent 18 months staving off attention, and effectively first for Torres, as well.
NU even beat the recruiting services to Torres. As of early Thursday afternoon, he didn’t have prospect ratings for 247Sports, Rivals or ESPN; Rivals listed him as a basketball “power forward.”
There aren’t many true unknowns in college football recruiting in the internet age, but Torres is close, and Nebraska is intrigued.
NU quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco has previously told The World-Herald that any quarterback scholarship offer is immediately committable. Proof was NU’s 2021 quarterback signee, Kearney Catholic’s Heinrich Haarberg, who received an offer at the start of a week and had committed by the end of it.
Plus, Lock said, the Husker head coach made the phone call to Torres on Wednesday night, which is significant.
“Coach Frost has a reputation of being extremely honest, and I told Richard, ‘Not everybody’s going to be that way, but you can bank on him being that way,’” Lock said. “Nebraska football — you say that, and people’s ears perk up.”
» Out in New Jersey, St. Peter’s Prep defensive back Avery Powell put Nebraska in his top six alongside Boston College, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Penn State and Wisconsin. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Powell is the nation’s No. 288 player, according to ESPN, and a three-star prospect according to Rivals and 247Sports. St. Peter’s Prep, located in Jersey City, is the alma mater of former Husker defensive back D.J. Singleton. More recently, the school produced Minkah Fitzpatrick, who won the Thorpe Award at Alabama and is a two-time all-pro with the Steelers.
» Bellevue West tight end Kaden Helms received an offer from LSU on Thursday. The 6-foot-5, 222-pounder is a four-star prospect according to 247Sports and a three-star prospect according to Rivals. Helms has offers from Nebraska, Florida State, Iowa, Oklahoma and more.