In 2015, I had the opportunity to see Vanderbilt play against then-No. 10 ranked Florida. The Gators were expected to encounter little resistance.
Late in the 4th quarter, the Commodores were a Gators field goal attempt away from winning the game, and I distinctly remember the tension in those final moments at Florida Field.
Part of that tension was served up by a Vanderbilt defense that was, by all accounts, unforgiving. Torren McGaster was part of that secondary that held the home team to single-digit points – and now he’ll be competing for playing time with the Cincinnati Bengals after being signed as an undrafted free agent.
“I thought it was great just being able to be [signed] by the Bengals and getting a chance to play with my cousin with the Bengals as well – Wallace Gilberry,” he said. “It was always a dream to either play against him or play with him as a Bengal, and I’ve got the opportunity to play with him. I’m ready to take the journey.”
McGaster joining the Bengals is the final chapter of an intriguing set of circumstances. Not only is Gilberry his older cousin, but he told me that Coach Livingston, who was promoted to the coaching staff from the scout team two years ago, has deep ties to McGaster’s former school.
“The DB Coach was actually at Vanderbilt and he left Vanderbilt as I was coming in,” he said. “He went to the NFL but he always came back to recruit and try to find players. And he was with the Bengals. My cousin told Coach Livingston that I played at Vanderbilt so he knew who I was. It was just great to have that connection between my cousin and Coach Livingston.”
The secondary includes an array of high draft picks, but the unit has dealt with just as many tough injuries over the last two years. The team’s depth has been tested, but the Bengals finally seem to be getting everyone healthy as camp begins for the rookies this week.
Gilberry has already told him, ‘let’s get to work and go win the world championship,’ and McGaster talked about what he feels that he can bring to the Bengals defense.
First and foremost, he’s ready to bring a lot of physicality to the defense, something that trademarked his play with the Commodores against potent SEC offenses. Cincinnati certainly picked up a player looking to bring an edge.
“I feel like I have a lot to prove,” he said. “I feel like a lot of teams slept on me through this draft. I felt like I should have been in the top three rounds, easy. I felt like I had the numbers, I had the plays, and I played in the best conference in all of college football. I’ve got a chip on my shoulder and I’m bringing it.”