Amherst senior Taj-Amir Torres selected to Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl



Last modified: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

AMHERST — Western Massachusetts high school football is generally overshadowed by teams closer to the coastline and as a region, New England is like the rest of the country’s long lost football cousin — until Friday.

Amherst Regional standout Taj-Amir Torres has spent his high school career tearing up the gridiron and the surrounding track. In the high school gymnasium, in front of teammates, family and friends, the Boston College football commit was recognized by the Marine Corps as an All-American with a selection to the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, on Jan. 4.

“I’m really humbled by it, excited to get there, get to California and play some football,” Torres said. “I am really excited to get the opportunity to play against the best in the nation.”

Torres is one of 100 selected for the nationally televised game. He is the first from western Massachusetts and just the fifth from the state. He will be joined by Xaverian Brothers defensive end Joe Gaziano in the bowl’s fourth installment.

“It’s great to have one of our own guys going to this All-American game and get to showcase his talent on a national stage,” Amherst coach David Thompson said. “I think that’s very good for him and the area. It lets people know that we do play good football.”

The Marine Corps made selections from nominated athletes. Thompson recognized Torres’ passion for the game and how he holds himself accountable off the field. He felt the senior would be the perfect candidate to represent the Hurricanes, western Mass., and prove that New England high school football shouldn’t be overlooked.

“There’s a lot of stuff on his plate and with how successful he’s been on the track and the (football) field, he shows everything that they are asking for of a person playing in this game,” Thompson said.

The Marine Corps sifted through a mountain of nominations submitted by coaches across the country to see who fit its values of honor, courage and commitment on and off the field.

“They are looking for scholastic athletes that demonstrate that Marine Corps values,” said Capt. Thomas Abbott, who presented Torres with the 2015 game jersey. “Not only is he a superstar athlete, but he takes his time and he builds his community. ... It’s that all-around individual — doing the right thing when nobody is looking, showing service over self, looking past your own reflection in the mirror and being there to support and help others.”

Torres has scored five touchdowns on 558 yards receiving, four TDs on 124 yards rushing and two TDs on special teams for Amherst (2-8). Torres also has three interceptions for the Hurricanes. He is the reigning New England champion in the indoor 55-meter dash and state champion in the outdoor 100-meter dash.

Off the field, he is a leader in the weight room and at team meetings. Removed from athletics, he puts the same effort into his school work and gives back to the community as a middle school mentor. Torres said he needed a bit of guidance and support to get to where he is.

“When I was younger, I use to do things not as well as I should have, like 50 percent,” he said. “I finally started doing things as well and doing things as hard as I could and it got me to where I am now.”

When he first started playing football, BC and other Division I schools weren’t even a dream, but after buying into his potential and 5 a.m. workouts, reality began to set in.

“I never thought (about playing in a bowl) coming out of western Mass.,” Torres said. “Not a lot of guys play in All-American games so I was really excited when I heard about it. ... I’m thankful for everyone that has helped me to get this place.”

Sarah Moomaw can be reached at smoomaw@gazettenet.com.


 


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