Most football players concentrate on winning the battle against the opponent opposite the line of scrimmage.
For one Florida A&M University football player, the battle was much closer to home as he battled injuries that kept him sidelined for the past two years.
During his preparatory career at Tampa’s Bloomingdale High, Torre Warren excelled on the offensive side as the signal caller for the Bulls, leading an offensive attack that primarily made use of the option.
Coming out of high school, Warren enrolled in tiny Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Mississippi. It was there that he would make the shift from an offensive player to a defensive one with relative ease.
“The transition was easy for me,” said Warren, one of five children from a family composed of two more brothers and sisters. “I have an aggressive attack kind of mentality, so defense was a natural fit.”
Playing on defense may have been a natural fit, but being hundreds of minles away from home was not, as Warren quickly became homesick.
“Tampa is a good-sized city,” Warren said jokingly. “When I came to Mississippi, all I saw was trees and houses that were about five miles apart.”
That made the decision of choosing between FAMU and Cincinnati, the two schools that most actively recruited him, a rather easy one.
While Warren’s love of football has remained unchanged, the physical price the game has extracted from his 6-1, 195 pound frame over the past two seasons has increased.
In the first game for the 2000 season against Delaware State, Warren suffered a serious injury in which he tore several tendons in his right ankle. Although the injury did not require surgery, Warren was shelved for remainder of the season.
After a grueling rehab process, Warren was ready to get back on the field for the 2001 football campaign.
“I felt I was the strongest I’ve ever been,” said Warren as he recalled the regimen of preseason weight training and conditioning. “I felt like I was in the best shape of my life.”
Warren would, however, be revisited again by the injury bug. This time the blow would come before the regular season ever started, with an even more serious injury, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee during the 2001 Fall Orange and Green game. Once again the cost of the injury was a season on the sidelines. Warren was projected as a starter for that season.
“That was pretty depressing,” said Warren. “The injury had me asking myself if I was really built to play the game of football and if I’d ever really be a hundred percent again.”
Coming up with the answers to those questions had Warren mulling over the prospect of turning in his football gear and calling it quits.
Warren, however, stuck with nearly nine months of rehabilitation.
“He’s (Torre) been a real inspiration to the team,” said senior linebacker Joe Sanders. “Once most players deal with a serious injury it breaks their spirit, but Torre’s been positive through this whole thing.”
Although Warren hasn’t been on the playing field much the past couple seasons, his efforts to get himself back in playing form have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by Rattler head coach Billy Joe.
“I told him to maintain his focus and his opportunity would come…That man (Warren) has paid some serious dues to play this game of football,” said Joe.
Those paid dues have been both physical and administrative as Warren recently got the nod from the NCAA Eligibility Committee, granting him a sixth year of eligibility.
While Warren’s body has made a full recovery, he brings a different mental approach to the game.
“I see things faster now,” said Warren. “I still play hard but I’m aware the injury part of the game is there too.”
“Torre’s a pure athlete,” said Sanders. “You don’t see many kinds of players like that.”
Before the injuries to his right ankle and left knee, Warren wore the number 20.
Warren says he never really attached any significance to his jersey number until this season.
Warren now wears the number 28 and perhaps appropriately so. Born in the month of February, which has only 28 days, Warren’s return to the field marks the rebirth of his college football career.
“When I made my first tackle against Delaware State, I got up and celebrated,” said Warren. “Not only for myself but to let the fans know that I’m back.”