Kansas football top 25 difference-makers: No. 19, S Bryce Torneden
For as many as three starters on this season’s Kansas football team, their high school and college home football fields are just 3.8 miles apart.
Joe Dineen has one starting linebacker spot locked up. Keith Loneker Jr. stands a good chance of securing the other. And Bryce Torneden is battling Tyrone Miller for the starting safety job opposite Mike Lee.
A sophomore, Torneden played quarterback and defensive back at Free State High and originally committed to North Dakota State as a running back. Kansas offered him a scholarship somewhat late in the process and he proved worthy of that by gaining playing time as a true freshman.
Torneden started at nickelback against West Virginia last season and knows enough about that position to play there again this season if needed, but has been used as a safety during fall camp. Derrick Neal and Kyle Mayberry are competing at the nickel spot.
The coaching staff gives him high grades for smarts and he knows how to use his muscular, 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame efficiently.
I asked Lee to name other hard hitters on the team and Torneden was the first name he mentioned. A Lee-Torneden safety tandem would leave opposing ballcarriers and receivers reaching for ice bags after the game.
If Torneden can prove he can cover as capably as Miller he’ll win the starting nod because of his strong play against the run. If he’s second on the depth chart, he’ll play plenty and maintain the positive attitude he brings to the practice field on a daily basis.
He’s not one who is playing football simply because he has the physical traits to be good at it. Torneden loves the game and it shows in the way he plays it as both a defensive back and special-teams contributor.