BYU Recruit Story that Tugs the Heart Strings

If BYU football scholarships were awarded based on desire, commitment, courage, character and family lineage, Nevada's <b>Chris Warner</b> would likely be first in line.

The three-sport All Region/All Conference athlete, from McQueen High School in Reno, is home alone tonight on his 18th birthday - weighing one of the most important decisions of his life.

"All my brothers and sister are attending BYU right now and my father graduated from BYU. University of Nevada Reno (UNR) coaches have told me I am their #1 recruiting priority this year, but my lifelong dream school, BYU, doesn't have a scholarship to offer right now," he said.

"The greatest birthday present I could wish for today would be a call from Coach Crowton saying, 'Hey Chris, we're going to give you a scholarship,'" Warner said wishfully.

He said his parents, brothers and sister have all called to wish him a happy birthday, but it's not the call he truly craves.

His parents are in Provo now waiting to join him for part of his BYU recruiting trip this weekend. "Can you believe that, I'm home alone on my 18th birthday," he chuckled.

Actually, that's not altogether true. The UNR Offensive Coordinator will be visiting Warner on the eve of his BYU trip to reinforce how much they want and need him as a scholarship player next year.

Warner's facts, figures and statistics speak for themselves:

* 6' 1", 190 pound RB, back up QB and DB. Recorded three interceptions with 408 yards on 26 carries - for an 11 yard per carry average as a back up running back.

* Registered a 4.55 forty on grass at the NevadaPrep Northern Nevada Elite Football Combine last year with 4.32 shuttle with a slightly pulled hamstring from track meet a week before. Ran a 4.48 40 on a regular track and he has a 34" vertical.

* One of only two track athletes selected from Nevada last year to participate in the Great Southwest Track Meet in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He jumped 23' 2" in the long jump and 46' 4" in the triple jump - while also recovering from a hamstring injury.

* He was an All Conference Basketball, Football and Track athlete in Fallon and Reno between his sophomore and senior years.

* He also returned kick offs and punts for 2002 State Champions and unbeaten McQueen High School.

Warner, who is half Japanese (his mother is from Japan), said the UNR coaches "told me they would pull my offer if I went on my BYU trip, but they changed their mind when I told him I feel obligated to visit because of my family's background at BYU. The head coach changed his mind and said not to worry; that my scholarship offer would be waiting for me after my trip. They are basically babying me."

In an interview today, Ken Dalton, legendary head coach of McQueen High School said of Warner:

"Chris is an outstanding athlete. He's a very courageous, tough kid who often played injured. He's got tremendous upside."

Dalton's glowing comments about Warner should be measured against the fact he is the first and only coach of McQueen High, considered the best high school football program for over a decade in Nevada.

He has a 21-year record of 167-58 with five Nevada State Championships as head coach. McQueen went 14-0 this year, won the 4A Nevada State Championship (largest schools) and was ranked 11th nationally in several polls. McQueen was ranked #2 in the "Best in the West" poll behind national champion De La Salle from Northern California.

"Chris is a real team player and he returned punts and kick-offs for us. He was an All Region (Northern Nevada) DB. We've only had 37 players play Division 1 football since 1990 and this year we have three. He can play for any Division 1 program on both sides of the ball."

"He was only in our program one year, but he played and adjusted like he had been here for four years. He has outstanding character," Dalton added.

Warner was initially contacted by Nebraska, Stanford, Washington, Fresno State, Boise State, UNR and BYU. He was invited for recruiting trips to UNR, Fresno State, Boise State and BYU, but told the other two schools he was not interested.

"If BYU offers, I'd commit right away. I've always dreamed of playing for BYU. But walking on is kind of hard when you have a scholarship offer.

"I'll always be a BYU fan no matter what. I grew up watching and supporting BYU. When we lived in Japan, my Dad, brother and I would get up at 3 a.m. in the morning to watch BYU football games on TV."

He added: "It's hard when the school you really want to go to can't offer what you need to go there. I feel I can do just as good as other guys getting scholarships."

Warner said he was grateful for the attention he has received from assistant coach Paul Tidwell since November.

"Coach Tidwell is a class act. He's been upfront with me and my parents. I know they are impressed with him because he's very sincere.

"He really impressed my Mom because he got her name right the first time because most people pronounce it wrong. Plus, he remembered her name every time he called her," he said.

What particularly fuels Warner's fire and passion for BYU is his family legacy at BYU. Eldest brother Jared (23) is in his final year in Provo. He was a scholarship recruit as a safety, but was injured and no longer plays. Older sister Sanae (22) and husband Robert Kelii are also attending BYU and she will graduate this spring. His 18-year-old brother Brad, who is 10 months older, is a freshman at Provo and will shortly leave for his mission.

"I'm going to sit down and think long and hard about my decision. I'm happy BYU is offering me a recruiting trip even though they don't have a scholarship offer.

"I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight because I'm so excited about my BYU trip.

The Warner family moved from Fallon, Nevada, specifically so he could play for coach Dalton at McQueen. His parents - father Richard is a federal investigator for the Navy Criminal Investigative Service and mother Shinobu is a registered nurse - still commute almost 90 minutes one way daily to and from Fallon to work .

"We've sacrificed a lot for this (Chris' opportunity to play Division 1 football)," said his father.

"Chris has worked hard for four years for this. It's hard to turn down a scholarship from a school (UNR) that really wants you bad for a school that can only offer him a chance to be a preferred walk-on (BYU).

He added: "It depends how well BYU treats him this weekend and how much they want him. Coach Tidwell has been upfront and Chris loves him. He told us that Chris is definitely a scholarship player, but they are in a scholarship crunch. He is a great recruiter and Chris really respects him. I feel like he's done his part to get other (BYU) coaches interested in Chris.

"I know other kids are deserving of scholarships, but so is my son."

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