When it comes to training, Richard Torres finds sweetness in suffering.
To further enhance his speed and quickness, Torres spent three weeks in California this summer pushing through intense workouts devised to pack power and endurance into his muscles by shredding them to near-exhaustion.
"It’s not fun at the time, but you learn to love it," Torres said. "You train until you’re dead and you can’t go any more and you just wake up and do it again. It’s lovely. It’s the best part."
Torres became a fan of misery during his training for wrestling in high school. And beckoning at the end of each searing sprint this summer was the impending grind of Hawaii’s fall camp and the start of Torres’ junior season as a versatile member of the Hawaii defensive backfield.
Torres returns to a veteran secondary coming off a sophomore season in which he recorded 44 tackles, including two for losses, while starting at both free safety and nickel back.
He spent the first half of the summer working in the Warriors’ offseason conditioning program run by strength coach Tommy Heffernan. He built on those gains by training with speed coach Rick Hagedorn in California in the weeks leading up to camp.
Hagedorn, a friend of Kahuku defensive coordinator Kimo Haiola, had visited the North Shore and worked with the Red Raiders while Torres was in high school. Torres and freshman quarterback Corey Nielsen sought Hagedorn’s guidance again this summer to prepare for the upcoming season.
Hagedorn’s program is tailored to football’s explosive nature, simulating the tempo of the game with quick bursts of intense work followed by brief intervals of rest.
"You’re running up stadium stairs, walk down, boom, sprint back up," Torres said. "You’re tired but you have to train yourself to fight through it. So you train yourself to be explosive in the fourth quarter."
At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Torres relies on those quick-twitch muscles and even quicker wits to compete against bigger opponents invading the Warriors secondary.
He began his career as a cornerback coming out of Kahuku but has primarily contributed as a safety. He started four games at free safety and shifted closer to the line of scrimmage in the packages featuring five or more defensive backs.
"He’s one guy you don’t have to worry about," said UH assistant coach Chris Tormey, who works with the Warriors’ safeties. "He’s going to know what to do, he’s going to be prepared to play. He’s tough, he’s smart and he’s just a very versatile player."
Torres returns to a seasoned secondary that includes starting cornerbacks Jeramy Bryant and Lametrius Davis, and safeties Mana Silva and Spencer Smith.
"We have a good feel for each other as a secondary," Torres said. "With the linebackers and the DBs, we’re all tying it in together with our disguises and helping out the D-line."
While his offseason training helped improve his quickness, Torres concedes he may have already lost some of the gains of his summer regimen.
He stuck to a protein-rich diet during his training and reported for camp 5 pounds heavier than last year. But sweating through practices under the weight of full pads tends to leave him lighter on the scale.
"I had to take this weight gainer twice a day and every 3 hours I had to eat a protein meal," he said. "I was just eating constantly. It was work."