Warren stands out on and off the field
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.”