Forward Austin Torres living out his dream at Notre Dame
Forward Austin Torres is in his fifth year season at Notre Dame. He's not going to blow you away with his stats line but he is on pace for career best numbers in every category this season.
For the Penn High School graduate, it's less about quantity and more about quality.
"He's been a great energy guy, dirty work guy for us. He's not going to be the offensive answer, we know that, but he can rebound, he defends, he post feeds, he passes, gives us energy. He's very important for us," Head Coach Mike Brey said.
Torres knows his role on the Notre Dame men's basketball team and he's maximized his opportunity.
"I come off the bench and kind of having that spark plug, especially here, to have that energy in the building," Torres said.
"If it's a charge or a dunk, he gets the whole bench going and he just really uplifts us whenever he gets in the game and does his energy plays," sophomore Nikola Djogo said.
Torres grew up in Granger, just 6 miles from Notre Dame's campus.
He was a late bloomer at Penn High School.
He didn't play varsity until his junior year and by the time he was a senior he was a star averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game for the Kingsmen.
But it was his time playing AAU ball with another local stand-out, Demetrius Jackson, which helped Torres get noticed.
"Knowing that there was an opportunity to play in front of prestigious coaches kind of lit a fire under me," Torres said.
Torres was committed to Central Michigan University but when the offer from Mike Brey came Torres' dream came true.
"I was actually playing Call of Duty with some of my friends and I actually didn't believe it at first because Demetrius actually called me first and asked me 'What would you think about going to Notre Dame?' and then 5 minutes later me and him are on the phone and Coach Brey is on the other line and he said 'What would you think about coming here?' My body was shaking, I didn't know what to do, I had to quit the game. I'm just sitting in my basement like 'Wow! Is this really a possibility?'" Torres said.
Torres' love of Notre Dame goes well beyond basketball, according to his mom Brenda Torres.
"When you look at pictures of him growing up, so many times, he was wearing something Notre Dame. So, it's like it was showing what life was going to be like later," Brenda Torres said.
His biological dad Oscar McBride played tight end for Irish Head Coach Lou Holtz.
His grandpa Bernie Gorski graduated from Notre Dame in 1963 and his mom Brenda played soccer for the Irish in the early 90s.
"Once I had that opportunity, I knew I needed to go there. And I think for Austin, he also just grew up being around the university, so certainly, when that opportunity presented itself, again, he's like this is just a dream come true," Brenda said.
Brenda passed on her competitive spirit and love for the Irish
"My mom took me to a ton of soccer games, even though she obviously wasn't playing anymore, because she just loved watching the team play. And you know I would always come over here with my grandfather. Just the environment and the excitement that all the Notre Dame fans have, because as everybody knows, Notre Dame fans are die-hard fans and I became one of those people," Torres said.
Brenda is a die-hard Austin Torres fan.
"I am certainly not a laid back supporter," Brenda said.
"That was something I had to get used to growing up, she was always yelling at me during competitions and stuff and that's something that made me stronger in terms of my mental ability," Torres said. "She's just always been a great supporter for me throughout my entire life and I'm so grateful that she is the best mother in this world."
Torres grew up Irish. While he had no idea he would end up earning a scholarship to play basketball at Notre Dame, his dream did come true.
"I came to games here. I watched Coach Humphrey play, I watched Swanigan play. I watched Moose play. Just being in this arena and being in those different colored seats and seeing all the emotion that happened in college athletics. And when I realized I was going to have the opportunity to play for the basketball team and this prestigious university, now I was going to be able to play for those die-hard fans instead of being one of those die-hard fan," Torres said.
Brenda's husband Rick came into Austin's life when he was 2-years-old and adopted him.
Torres maintains a relationship with his biological dad, too.
McBride will watch Torres play on Saturday when the Irish host Florida State.