The Wisconsin football program has a long-standing tradition of turning walk-ons into highly productive Big Ten players for their program. If you were to look at this year’s team alone, Wisconsin has produced the likes of John Chenal, Matt Henningsen, Josh Seltzner, Brady Schipper, Jack Dunn, Jack Eschenbach, and Mike Maskalunas. That’s not even mentioning the countless other walk-on success stories the program has seen over the last couple of decades.
As soon as one productive walk-on leaves the program, another always has a way of rising from the ashes and making an impact on the field. Wisconsin appears to have found its next success story in walk-on safety, John Torchio.
John Torchio finished an accomplished three-year varsity football career having amassed: 3,562 yards passing and 41 touchdowns through the air, 885 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on the ground, and 7 receiving touchdowns on offense. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, Torchio also totaled 244 total tackles and 15 interceptions on defense.
Torchio chose to walk-on at Wisconsin back in 2018 despite having scholarship offers from the likes of Cal, Air Force, Army, San Jose State, Rice, and several Ivy League schools.
His decision to walk-on at Wisconsin came as a surprise because Torchio had received a scholarship offer from former Wisconsin football defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox – which provided him the opportunity to stay home and play for the same team his father had walked onto – Cal.
And thankfully he did because John Torchio has more than proved that he “belongs” at the Power 5 levels. This season Torchio has entrenched himself as Wisconsin’s no. 3 safety and is on the field making plays every single week for one of the nation’s best defensive units.
“The Jewelry Thief” as his teammates call him, played just 117 snaps in his first two seasons at Wisconsin. However, Torchio has emerged this season, already having played 244 total snaps. It would be an understatement to say he’s been an impact player in his opportunities, so break down just how good he’s been.
John Torchio by the numbers (via PFF):
Overall Grade: 88.9
- 2nd on the team – only behind Leo Chenal
- 31st ranked defensive player in the entire nation.
- 6th highest-graded safety in the nation.
Coverage Grade: 89.8
- Highest coverage grade on the team
- 5th ranked coverage grade in the nation among safety’s
John Torchio has been fantastic while serving as the team’s no. 3 safety, so good in fact that he’s only allowed 6 completions for a mere 29 yards all season long. Some players just have a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and making plays on the ball – John Torchio is one of those players.
Both of Wisconsin football’s current starting safeties are seniors and likely to move on (unless Nelson uses his extra season), leaving the door wide open for the ball-hawking Torchio to step into a starting role and presumably earn a well-deserved scholarship this coming season. One would have to imagine his impact will only grow as he gets more opportunities, but one thing is for sure – Wisconsin has found another impactful walk-on.