His 1992 Heisman Trophy that acknowledges his magnificent college career is securely tucked away in his office in Miami.
Since then, Gino Torretta’s football career merits no awards.
Yet, Torretta has persevered and continues to plug away at the chance of becoming a successful quarterback in the NFL.
“People have asked me, would you rather be a first-round draft pick or a Heisman Trophy winner?” Torretta said Wednesday at the Seahawks training camp in Cheney. “And I’ve told people before, I’d much rather be a Heisman Trophy winner.”
The trophy, which he won at the University of Miami his senior year, is his forever. So are the first-team All-American’s senior-year stats: 3,338 yards passing and 19 touchdowns on the way to the Hurricanes’ 11-1 season.
“Obviously, now that I have the Heisman, my goals have changed. Now I want to be in a position to start on an NFL team.”
Starting really hasn’t been an option for the 6-foot-3 native of Northern California. As he enters his fifth year on his fourth team, Torretta is forced to worry about sticking.
The Torretta NFL tour started in Minnesota, where he was a seventh-round draft pick in 1993. The following year he was on Detroit’s roster, followed by San Francisco and Seattle, where he was reunited with his college coach, Dennis Erickson.
He also played overseas for the Rhein Fire of the World League.
Claimed on waivers by the Seahawks last November to replace the injured John Friesz, Torretta’s most-remembered moment came in a game against Oakland.
In a backup role, Torretta replaced the injured Stan Gelbaugh and completed 5 of 16 passes for 41 yards and one touchdown which led to a 28-21 victory. Prior to that Sunday afternoon, Torretta never completed a pass in the NFL.
“I don’t think I have been given the opportunity,” he said. “My first year (in Minnesota) coming out, we had five quarterbacks in camp.”
There was Jim McMahon, Sean Salisbury, Rich Gannon, Brad Johnson and the rookie Torretta.
Later there was Warren Moon, Detroit’s Scott Mitchell and Dave Kreig, not to mention San Francisco’s formidable signal-callers Steve Young and Elvis Grbac.
“I just …” said Torretta, stopping to collect his thoughts, “I think I’ve learned quite a bit my five years being on four teams already.”
The names have changed, but the situation remains the same in Seattle. There’s John Friesz and Moon, Seattle’s designated 1-2 quarterbacks. Rookie Jon Kitna of Central Washington, who’s coming off a World League title and has looked impressive in camp, and rookie Jim Arellanes of the CFL and Fresno State also are in camp.
“He’s (Torretta) fighting for that third spot with Kitna. That’s where it’s at right now,” Erickson said.
“He’s performed extremely well here. I was surprised how he performed in minicamp and to win that game for us last year.”
In last week’s opening preseason game in Canton, Ohio, a 28-26 loss to Minnesota, Torretta completed 10 of 16 passes for 102 yards and one touchdown. At Wednesday’s practice-ending 2-minute drill, he completed 3 of 4 passes.
“I think I learned quite a bit in San Francisco on just being accurate throwing the football,” Torretta said. “You don’t have to throw the ball through a barn door. You’ve just got to make sure it’s right on the money every time.
“Where as in college, you’re probably throwing through a window of about 3 or 4 yards. Here, you might be throwing through a window of 3 or 4 feet and it makes a big difference.”
Just how long will Torretta’s window - be it measured in yards of feet - be open? Currently, he’s on a one-year, non-guaranteed contract worth $196,000.
“I feel I have the skills to play in this league. The minute that I don’t think I have the skills to play in his league than I’ll leave,” he said.
However, Torretta already is planning for his future outside the game.
Next June, he and his college girlfriend plan to marry in her hometown of Boardman, Ohio.
At the end of last season, Torretta, who will turn 27 in August, earned his stockbroker’s license.
He’s employed in Miami, the city where his name is priceless. The city where he keeps his Heisman Trophy.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: WHERE ARE THEY NOW? A look at the past 10 Heisman Trophy winners, their college and their present team. 1996: Danny Wuerffel, Florida, New Orleans Saints 1995: Eddie George, Ohio State, Tennessee Oilers 1994: Rashaan Salaam, Colorado, Chicago Bears 1993: Charlie Ward, Florida State, NBA New York Knicks 1992: Gino Torretta, Miami, Seattle Seahawks 1991: Desmond Howard, Michigan, Oakland Raiders 1990: Ty Detmer, Brigham Young, Phiadelphia Eagles 1989: Andre Ware, Houston, CFL Toronto Argonauts 1988: Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State, Detriot Lions 1987: Tim Brown, Notre Dame, Oakland Raiders
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