Whether it’s breaking up passes, chasing down ball carriers or picking off a quarterback, he turns heads at every turn.
“I don’t think he’s human,” outside linebacker Robert Gray said. “It’s unreal watching in practice some of the things he can do.”
Added cornerback Junior Hough: “His closing speed is crazy. He might get over the top on a ball so fast you can’t even believe it. And his mental part of the game is up there even more than the physical part.”
Even Gamecocks head coach Bill Clark is impressed, and he’s not one to tout someone before his time. But Clark uses the “Gr-word” when he talks about the potential of the Prattville product.
“He’s got a chance to be great,” Clark said. “We talk a lot about the chance to be good — he’s got a chance to be great.”
And he should know what it takes. He coached a rugged safety at Prattville who’s still in the NFL — Roman Harper of the New Orleans Saints.
Warren burst on the scene two seasons ago with a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown against Tennessee State as a freshman. He hasn’t slowed down yet. He scored his first career touchdown last year when he returned a fumble 75 yards for a score in the first quarter of the Gamecocks’ 27-24 win over Chattanooga.
It was the third longest return in JSU history and the longest since Eugene Green’s 98-yard dash in 1962. The interception return was the longest in JSU’s Division I history.
“He’s one of those guys you want in your secondary because people can mess up and he’s like an eraser back there,” defensive coordinator and safeties coach Duwan Walker said. “He covers up for a whole lot.”
Walker said Warren might even be more impressive in the meeting room. He said the player sounds like a coach whenever he asks a question.
“Even though we might be practicing against each other, I still try to think about it as a game situation,” Warren said. “I try to learn ahead of things so I ask questions I think will happen during an actual game and then learn from that.”
Apparently he learns quickly. Warren has played in all 22 games each of his first two years with the program and he’s been among their leading tacklers each year.
As a freshman, he had 34 tackles and a team-high three interceptions, highlighted by the one he brought back against the Tigers. Last season he had at least one tackle in every game and was in on 51 total.
This year he wants more.
“I want to have the best season I’ve ever had playing football, all around,” he said. “Tackles, I want to improve on that. I want to have the most I’ve had since I’ve been here. Interceptions, I really want the most of them. Not only interceptions, but I want to take them back to the house for six.”
Going over the top. It’s in his DNA.
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.