Chris Warner story in his own words (Part 1 of 2)

For years, I have dreamed about playing Division I football.

My dream of playing football actually started as I watched my elder brother Jared play high school football.

We were living in Japan at the time. Jared was the All-Star player for his high school team. He broke several conference high school rushing and offense records.

Jared went to BYU and was played on the football team his freshman year before his mission. I knew, then, that someday I wanted to play for BYU.

My whole family has always been big time BYU supporters. I remember growing up in Japan and my Dad, brothers and I would get up at 3 o'clock in the morning to watch BYU football games on TV. That's where and how my BYU dream started.

My first taste of actual football was in the 8th grade. My dad was an assistant Varsity football coach for the Department of Defense High School Varsity team. At the school we only had a J.V. team and a Varsity team. There wasn't a team for middle school.

I begged my dad to let me play on the J. V. team since I was just as big - as an 8th grader - as many of the kids who were playing high school football. My dad got permission for me to practice with the J.V. team, but I couldn't play in any of the games.

In fact I almost got kicked off the team by the school principal because the team had a pre-season scrimmage with a team and they let me play and carry the ball. The principal found out about me playing the scrimmage game and she almost kicked me off the team. I gained a lot from practicing. However, it was really hard for me to sit on the bench and watch the others play, knowing I couldn't play.

The summer before my freshman year, we moved to Fallon, Nevada, when my dad was assigned there as a federal agent working on the Navy base.

I quickly got accepted and started summer workouts with the Fallon freshman team. Because I had a good arm, the coaches wanted me to play quarterback. So I started the season as the QB.

In the first game, our starting running back got hurt in the second quarter, so the coaches came to me at half time and asked me if I would play running back the second half. I ran for 156 yards in the second half.

The coaches told me after the game I was the new starting running back. At the end of the season, the new varsity coach came and told me the Varsity was going to change to an Option offense and he wanted me to be the option QB.

For the next two seasons, I was the starting QB for Fallon High School. My brother Brad, was a year older than I and a great football player in his own right was All conference linebacker and tight end.

It was awesome playing with my brother. Whenever I completed a pass to him or we both helped make a tackle, we heard over the load speakers that it was a "Warner Brothers production."

Unfortunately we were one of the smaller 4A (largest division) schools and not very competitive in the Northern Nevada 4A league. We lost a lot of games my sophomore and junior years, but I was still named to the All-League team both years.

I loved football, but I also ran track or played basketball. I went to State my freshman year in the Long Jump and also started playing Varsity basketball as a sophomore. I really enjoyed these sports. I had some success and was named All-Conference in basketball and also All-State in track, but my heart was really in football.

Toward the end of my junior year at Fallon, I decided that to fulfill my dream of playing Division I college football, I probably had to go to another school so I could have a chance to play at the next level.

I discussed it with my Dad and he supported me. I knew it would be very difficult for my family. My Dad told me that if I wanted to do this, the only school for me would be McQueen High School in Reno. They are the powerhouse football team in the state of Nevada.

My Dad called the McQueen head coach and asked him if he would accept me as a player. The coach, Ken Dalton, said he would welcome me if I decided to move and come to McQueen.

With a lot of soul searching and family discussions, my family decided they would be willing to sacrifice so I could have my chance. When we told the coaches at Fallon our decision, it was not taken very well by some in the community.

Still, I was supported by many who had my best interests in mind. We decided to make the move and the rest is kind of history. My parents sacrificed a lot. In order to be eligible to play, my parents and I had to literally move to Reno from Fallon (67 miles), sell our home and move into a tiny apartment in the McQueen school boundary.

My Dad and Mom have been commuting to Fallon every day since then because their jobs are still in Fallon and we now live in Reno. And they did it so I could have my chance at fulfilling my dream of playing Division I football. I am so grateful to them and I could never express in words how much I love and appreciate them for what they did.

And it worked. I started getting noticed by colleges. McQueen went 14-0 this past season and we won the Nevada State Championship. We were rated #11 in one national poll and in the Top 25 in most others. We also ended up rated second in the West behind De La Salle High School of California.

The McQueen coaches are great teachers of football and also great individuals. I have appreciated all they did for me last year. I know it is not easy to take a new kid that has not been in "their" system for four years and give him a chance, which they did.

I really learned a lot of what it takes to have a championship team and program. The McQueen coaches are the greatest. My teammates have been great and accepted me. I feel I had a small part in McQueen's success, but more than that, it was exciting to be a part of championship football for the first time in my life. What a thrill it was to step out on the field of Sam Boyd Stadium (UNLV) and play my final high school game. I knew that someday I wanted to return to play there as a college player.

Coming to McQueen also gave me the exposure I needed and several colleges started looking at me as a recruit. It has been an awesome experience. Getting letters from schools like Nebraska, Washington, Stanford, Colorado, Colorado State, Boise State, Fresno State, University of Nevada Reno (UNR) and others was really fun at first.

UNR coaches were great from the start. From the beginning, they seemed very interested in me and treated me like they really wanted me to come play for them. They probably knew the most about me and my abilities since I have played in their local area. All the coaches at UNR treated me great and really showed a lot of interest in me.

I guess my biggest problem was that I always dreamed of playing for BYU.

FINAL INSTALLMENT Chris Warner provides his final decision, his reasons and details his decision-making process between UNR and BYU and conversations with coaches.

Copyright © 2003

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