War­ren stands out on and off the field

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - RICHARD DAVEN­PORT

The fifth in a se­ries pro­fil­ing new­com­ers to the Arkansas Ra­zor­backs foot­ball team.

The high school high­light video of Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville fresh­man De’Vion War­ren shows nu­mer­ous jaw-drop­ping plays that are hard to de­scribe.

Mon­roe (La.) Oua­chita Par­ish Coach Jeff Fitzger­ald did his best to chron­i­cle War­ren’s abil­ity to make de­fend­ers look silly.

“Ob­vi­ously, he’s a tremen­dous ath­lete,” Fitzger­ald said.

“He has great feet. Un­be­liev­able feet and un­be­liev­able vi­sion. Some­times it’s al­most like he can see in the fu­ture.

“It just feels like just watch­ing film you’re like, ‘How did he see that or how did he make that hap­pen?’ There’s only one way to ex­plain it and it’s the abil­ity that God gave him.

“The dude is an in­cred­i­ble young man with in­cred­i­ble foot­work, in­cred­i­ble vi­sion. That’s about the only way you can ex­plain it. It’s God-given tal­ent.”

War­ren, 5-11, 176 pounds, 4.53 sec­onds in the 40-yard dash, played quar­ter­back for the Li­ons and com­pleted 57 of 128 passes (44.5 per­cent) for 1,022 yards, 11 touch­downs and rushed 140 times for 1,361 yards and 27 touch­downs as a se­nior.

It was only when his high school ca­reer was over, that War­ren, a three-year starter, was able to cri­tique his play on the field.

“I do it now more than I ever did now be­cause my high school ca­reer is over,” War­ren said. “I watched the high­lights and the games I’ve played and [say], ‘Wow, I did this in that game? I did this? How did I do that?’ Be­cause when you play a game you love you don’t think about things.”

De­spite his abil­ity to make plays on of­fense, ESPN was the lone re­cruit­ing ser­vice to rate War­ren a four-star prospect.

“I use that as mo­ti­va­tion,” War­ren said. “Most peo­ple around me have al­ways been rated higher than me. I have to be that per­son that works ex­tra hard. I was al­ways over­looked as a foot­ball player.”

Fitzger­ald said tack­ling War­ren in the open field is an al­most im­pos­si­ble task.

“Space is his friend,” Fitzger­ald said. “That is his best friend and that’s go­ing to be every­body’s worst en­emy … be­cause there’s no way to get a clean shot on him. There’s no way to get a clean tackle on him. You have to swarm tackle him and gang tackle him.

“He’s just not a guy that you’re go­ing to make a good one-on-one tackle. I have not seen him be brought down by one per­son yet and I coached him for four years.”

Be­cause of his ath­leti­cism, War­ren could play slot re­ceiver or de­fen­sive back in Fayet­teville. He said re­ceivers coach Michael Smith is want­ing him on of­fense.

“Coach Smith wants me to come play re­ceiver, and then some of the de­fen­sive coaches

want me to play de­fen­sive back,” War­ren said.

War­ren chose the Hogs over Colorado State, Mem­phis, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Mon­roe.

“The hon­esty the coaches had with me and my fam­ily,” War­ren said of his de­ci­sion to play for Arkansas. “Then hang­ing out with the team when I had to chance to go into the locker room. They were just one big fam­ily. “It’s just like be­ing home.” Fitzger­ald praised War­ren’s par­ents, Lavell and Rox­anne, for his up­bring­ing.

“He’s like a son to me,” Fitzger­ald said. “I have two lit­tle girls and I have no prob­lem leaving my two lit­tle girls with him and run to do some­thing. They love him.”

War­ren also cred­ited his par­ents for his ways.

“It’s the way I was raised,” War­ren said. “I was al­ways told al­ways be on your best be­hav­ior. You never know who is watch­ing. You never know who’s out there. When you’re a great stu­dent in class or a good ath­lete peo­ple watch you more.”

It was hard for Fitzger­ald to name just one play that stood out dur­ing War­ren’s dur­ing high school ca­reer, but did re­call ask­ing War­ren to ex­e­cute a quar­ter­back counter on a third and long for a cru­cial first down.

“He just looked at us as if we were ab­so­lutely nuts,” Fitzger­ald said.

“We were, ‘Man, we have to get this first down,’ and he goes, ‘Al­right, how far do I have to get?’

“I want to say it was third and 38 and he got 40 yards on the play. It was against [Mon­roe] Neville which [has] a tremen­dous de­fense. That play still has my jaw on the ground.”


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