“I’m just excited to get going and play football again,” Warner said. “When I got this injury it really made me hungry to get back out there and play football because I couldn’t really do anything over winter and spring. It’s made me appreciate what I have more.”
Recently the team transitioned from voluntary summer conditioning and workouts to more football-related activities in preparation for fall camp.
“Yeah, we just now transitioned our summer conditioning and workouts to trying to get our body’s right to now football conditioning like position mastery and more the football stuff,” said Warner. “Different guys in each position group will lead it off and it’s been good.”
The transition has only fueled his excitement to get back out on the football field. Fred Warner simply can’t wait to put his helmet and pads back on and get out on the field and hit someone. His confidence has grown. His understanding of the defense has increased, and his appreciation for the game he loves so much, having missed much after his injury, has left him with an itch he simply can’t scratch right now.
“I’m just excited to get back out there and play some football,” Warner said. “I’m just excited about the upcoming season, getting back to fall camp and practicing. I’m just ready to play and get going. My confidence is high.”
Confidence in his playing ability has grown leaps and bounds for Warner after his inaugural year as a true freshman was a very successful one prior to his season-ending injury. He now knows what he can do and has acclimated himself to the speed, intensity, and physicality of college football.
“I feel like the biggest thing I took away from last season after getting playing time is confidence,” said Warner. “Playing as a freshman you kind of feel your way through the game while trying to get use to all the speed and the change of the game. Having played last season I know what to expect. I know what I can do so I can play off of that and be a lot more confident in my play.”
His understanding of the defense has grown, only adding to his confidence. All of these factors play into why Fred Warner is ready to go out and simply play the game of football without a second thought.
“I can play both Will and Sam linebacker because I know both positions so well,” said Warner. “That’s one thing me and Sae [Tautu] can do because we know both positions so well, so we can play sides because we know the defense so well. I know Sione [Takitaki] will be there soon where he’s like that and can play both sides as well as a few other guys.”
The talent level of BYU’s outside linebacker group runs deep. The fact that Warner is competing, succeeding, and playing among one of the more talented outside linebacker groups in the west fuels his excitement for the future.
“Yeah, we for sure have a lot of depth at our position. We have a lot of talent,” said Warner. “Guys really proved themselves over last season. We have guys like Sae [Tautu], Sione [Takitaki], we just moved Teu Kautai from inside to outside, there’s me, Tyler Cook who has stepped up lately, Troy Hinds but he suffered an injury, Rhett Sandlin just came off a mission, so we have a lot of depth right now. I think the biggest change from last season to off-season is more film study. A lot of the guys know how to defense and know how to play ball, so it’s now more about knowing the overall defense and being familiar with it so you don’t have to think about it while you’re on the field. You want everything to come automatically so you can just do it on the field.”
As of right now Warner is slated for the outside linebacker position. However, with so much talent on the outside there has been talk of possibly moving Warner to inside linebacker in the future.
“They see me playing inside maybe and that’s something that Coach Mendenhall has talked to be about,” said Warner. “I mean in the future you just never know, but right now I’m just going to be an outside linebacker. At least for this season I’m going to be an outside linebacker. In the future you just never know.”
With the talent level of players like Sione Takitaki, Troy Hinds, Rhett Sandlin, and Tyler Cook moving someone around in the future makes sense in order to bring the best talent on the field. Warner has studied a lot of past BYU outside linebacker greats to have a more well-rounded playing style of play that’s all his own.
“I know a lot of guys compare me to Kyle Van Noy, but I don’t really model my game after anyone because we’re all different,” said Warner. “I’ve watched film on plenty of guys from the past like Kyle [Van Noy], David Nixon, Jordan Pendleton, Brian Kehl, and Spencer Hadley. I know the differences in all of their games and I have differences in mine. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I’ve learned from each one of those guys just so I can become like how they were, but I wouldn’t really say that I’m the exact same as any one of those guys.”
In regards to working under Bronco Mendenhall, Warner is excited to see how the defense responds to him now that he’s taken over as the play caller for the defense. This will be his first time playing under the direction of Coach Mendenhall and he’s already expecting a lot of changes.
“We haven’t been able to work with Coach Mendenhall yet,” said Warner. “I would say that the biggest change that we’re going to see is the strictness of the defense because I know Coach Mendenhall likes to run things a certain way. That’s just the kind of person he is, so the way we run to the ball, the way we know our assignments, the way we make plays everything has to be exactly on point on this defense. Those are going to be some of the differences I think. It’s going to be good I think and I’m just ready to get going. It’s going to be an exciting season.”