Once former 7-on-7 teammates, UF starting safeties Dean and Torrrence arrived with chemistry

Graham Hall
Special to The Sun
Florida defensive back Trey Dean performs a drill at training camp.

Saturday’s contest against Florida Atlantic will mark a reunion of sorts that’s been years in the making for a pair of Gators defensive backs. 

Before they were positioned to start together in Florida’s secondary, senior Trey Dean III and sophomore Rashad Torrence II were teammates on a 7-on-7 travel football team out of Roswell, Georgia, when the latter was just on the cusp of starting high school football and the former was already receiving significant interest from Division I programs keen on offering him a scholarship. 


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That 7-on-7 team, previously named “FSS” but now known as Hustle Inc. 7v7, competed around the southeast throughout the summers of their respective high school careers. 

Florida defensive back Rashad Torrence II ready to start Saturday vs. FAU.

As Torrence recalls, Dean wasn’t the only former Gator he competed with or against prior to committing to Florida, nor does he plan on forgetting said memories anytime soon. 

“Diwun (Black) played with us one tournament. But when we played Diwun’s team, we actually beat them in Mississippi. We beat them,” Torrence remembered. “It was a long time ago. I have a great memory. He has a vague memory of it. But I’m not going to forget that.”

He also didn’t forget about what it felt like to play alongside Dean. 

After Dean blossomed into a highly coveted prospect out of Dutchtown, he signed with the Gators and ended up playing significant snaps as a true freshman at UF. 

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Seeing his former teammate take the field almost instantly was a major factor in Torrence’s decision to reunite with Dean at the collegiate level. 

“Trey was a good reason why I came to Florida. Just seeing his early success on the field as a freshman, it was kind of encouragement for me to come here,” Torrence said. “It was like ‘OK, I know he can do those things and we played together, so why not give myself the opportunity at the same school with the same coaches and put myself ahead?’”

Torrence’s decision paid off almost immediately, as the 6-foot safety played in nine games as a true freshman in 2020, including three starts. Though Dean isn’t looking to take any credit for Torrence’s early success, he did pass along some words of wisdom.

“Well, I wanted Rashad real bad,” Dean said. “Rashad was a Georgia boy, it’s kind of hard to get him out of Georgia — the state of Georgia — but I told him nothing’s like The Swamp, and just  coach (Dan) Mullen and coach (Todd) Grantham, I don’t think there’s a better coaching staff in the country than the University of Florida. In order to be the best, you’ve got to go with the best so they can teach you.

“I give Florida all the credit. Like I said, I feel like this is the best. If you want to play the best football, you’ve got to be with us.”

Torrence would finish the 2020 season with 25 tackles, including a career-high eight in his collegiate debut against Ole Miss, production that simultaneously put him in line to start as a sophomore, which is expected to be the case when Florida’s defense takes the field for its first series against the Owls. 

While Torrence fits in as more of a true safety in UF’s defensive backfield, Dean has shown the ability to play every position in the secondary. After playing at cornerback as a freshman, Dean has rotated around and played nickelback and eventually safety, the position he primarily played at the high school level. 

Though Dean’s ability to play a multitude of positions on the field may have come as a surprise to some, it was nothing new to Torrence. 

Versatile duo in Florida's deep secondary

“Really, playing a lot of spots just shows his versatility. He can get down and cover, he comes down and hits, he shows great range in the post,” Torrence said. “I mean, Trey is like a Swiss Army knife. Wherever you need him to be, he’s going to be there.”

But for now, the plan is to use the pair together as protection over the top. The hope is their previously established relationship will lead to a resurgence in production in the back end from a unit that has noticeably struggled in recent seasons. 

For those who didn’t witness the initial pairing of Dean and Torrence, when the two were just prospects pushing each other under the lights year after year, the duo plan on turning skeptics into believers when the Gators take the field Saturday night. 

“That’s kind of crazy, we’ve been on the same 7-on-7 team since I think his freshman year in high school, so I was the one safety and he was the other. There’s a lot of chemistry there,” Dean remembers. “We never envisioned (playing together), but God has always got a plan, so it happened that way, two Georgia boys. So, we played real, real good in 7-on-7, so we’re going to show them what type of safety group we (are), starting on Saturday.”