Cameron Torres’ football future was uncertain when he woke up Monday morning.
The plan all along was for the East Union senior to enroll at Modesto Junior College with hopes of landing a roster spot as a walk-on, but an out-of-the-blue text message from his high school coach changed everything.
Today, he has a partial scholarship with a premier National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics program.
“This has just been a dream,” Torres said Wednesday night via phone interview after celebrating his life-changing moment. He signed with Kansas Wesleyan University, and friends and family near and far got to witness it during a video conference on Zoom and multiple social media platforms.
“It was great,” he said. “I had a lot of support from my family, friends and coaches. Honestly, I was nervous at first, especially toward the beginning of the day. All the support I really helped.”
A special teams ace for East Union, Torres was recruited as a punter and placekicker.
Kansas Wesleyan is the two-time defending Kansas Conference champion, going undefeated in the regular season the past two years with a 25-2 overall record. The Coyotes reached the NAIA Championship semifinals in 2018 and quarterfinals in 2019.
“I am honored to be asked to be part of a winning program like that,” Torres said.
East Union coach Willie Herrera kicked off the “distance signing” ceremony with an introductory speech. He told the Bulletin that KWU head coach Myers Hendrickson reached out Monday in search of a player who fits a specific role.
Torres immediately came to mind, despite his raw skills. He did not start playing football until his sophomore year at East Union, where he also saw time as defensive back. Torres contributed 20 tackles, an interception and fumble recovery on defense. On special teams, he averaged 32.3 yards per punt, 41.6 yards per kickoff and made 18 of 21 point-after kicks.
“The first couple of years he was just trying to feel it out, and last year he got a ton better,” Herrera said. “He still has limited experience but there are a lot of good qualities there.
“When I talk to kids about playing at the next level they don’t fully understand the avenues to a four-year university,” Herrera added. “A lot of them want to go to the local junior colleges, but it’s tough because the local junior colleges are highly successful. There isn’t much of a chance there for a kid like Cameron who needs more time developing and growing into the system, but now he has a great opportunity to improve.”
Herrera added that Torres helped himself with solid test scores and a high grade point average. He also speaks highly of his character and “servant’s heart.”
Kansas Wesleyan coaches liked what they saw on film, so it just came down to Torres’ desire to continue playing. He checked that box, too.
“I appreciate Coach Willie for giving me this opportunity to prove to myself, my teammates and my family that this is what I want to do,” Torres said. “This is what I was made to do.”
Torres admits he did not know much about the school or the team until offensive coordinator Mike Famiglietti contacted him. It all happened quickly from there, and his decision to commit came the day after Herrera presented him with his opportunity.
Torres of course has not had a chance to visit the campus, due to shelter-in and travel restrictions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, but his conversations with Famigleietti, internet research and virtual tours were enough.
“It really felt like it was meant to be,” Torres said. “I’ve always told my mom and dad that if I can get a scholarship I’m going to take that. They are supportive of my decision 100 percent.”
Torres said he will major in nursing and minor in education.