4-Star LB Leonard Warner Talks Duke Interest

Four star outside linebacker Leonard Warner is prioritizing academics as he begins to narrow down his list of more than 30 offers. He recently spoke with TDD about his recruiting process and his interest in Duke and where the Blue Devils stand with him.


Heard you are a big academic guy Leonard, what are your interests academically?

I would like to be in engineering, mechanical engineering. I’ve always been pretty good at math and science, and I thought it’d be a great field to be in with that.

Which college programs have you had the opportunity to check out their engineering programs?

Georgia, Florida State, North Carolina State, Stanford, Georgia Tech, U of M. I haven’t talked with Duke as much yet about that, but I know they have a good program too. I feel like as far as the classes and the support, they are different depending on where you go. Then with freshman classes and stuff like that they can be similar. I’ve visited Georgia, Georgia Tech, and for football visits I’ve gone to Georgia, Florida State, Duke, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia Tech, that’s all I can remember right now off the top of my head.

What kind of differences have you noticed with the academic support structures from what you have seen?

The biggest difference is some schools have more tutors overall whereas other schools may have tutors for football players as well as tutors for engineering students, it’s just subtle differences but they matter. I’m not sure which is most important yet, that’s something I’ll have to figure out.

You mentioned Duke as being involved in your recruitment…is there any insight you can share into how the recruiting process with them has played out over time with you?

Duke is on my list primarily because of their academic reputation alone and just how much value there is to the Duke degree and the potential for life after football I could have with a degree from a place like that or Stanford, and that’s something that I really need to consider which is why they are there.

When did Duke and Stanford start getting involved with you?

It was spring two school years ago. With Duke they know what they have to offer and they don’t try to hide that and they know that some schools that recruit you, they talk to you about football mainly and Duke isn’t like that. I have to think about my decision carefully because that degree value that I talked about earlier, there’s so much you can do with a Duke degree. That’s pretty much been their pitch.

Which coaches from the Duke staff have you talked with so far?

Coach Faris. We were talking two or three times a week but then my phone got some water damage so it’s decreased, but that’s across the board with all the schools.

From a relationship standpoint with Duke, would you say your relationship with them is just as strong as you have with other programs that are seriously recruiting you?

I wouldn’t say that as much because I don’t know as much of the Duke staff as I do with others, but with Coach Faris, it is just as strong as with any other coach.

How did the scholarship offer come from them?

I don’t remember exactly, it was a crazy time when the offer came in and there were a lot of offers coming in around the same time.

What are your thoughts on the football side of things at Duke with what you have seen or heard from the coaches?

From what I’ve seen they are kinda on the way up and I see a lot of highly rated guys who normally wouldn’t go there who are going there. I’m good friends with Drew Jordan and Dylan Singleton is a guy out of my neck of the woods, so I see it and I see them trying to build a team, they are a team to keep my eye out for.

Have you discussed with Drew and Dylan their situations and why they chose Duke?

With Drew I did. Drew is like my boy, my friend. With Dylan I haven’t. Drew tells me that I should come on over, think about it and just come on. He talks about different, like how the Duke degree leads to success in the future and stuff like that, it should be a no-brainer because for him it was, that’s what he says.

Do you view Duke as a serious option the way you are with other schools you are seriously considering?

I don’t really want to say just yet, I’m still sorting out that stuff.

How are you and your dad handling the process moving forward?

We’ve put it down, but there’s still some schools we need to go to that we haven’t been to even though they are kinda late in the process. It’s kinda open but then again there are some schools that we have to think about, it’s not just the top 5 or top 6, I have to look at some schools like Stanford and Ohio State because you can’t judge a school if you haven’t been there yet.

Have you already started planning official visits?

We’re going to go to Stanford on an official visit just because of the distance of where we live and Ohio State is also going to be an official visit I think.

Are you the type who needs to take all 5 official visits and then consider a decision, or is it more take one at a time and see where you are relative to a decision?

If I feel like I need to take all 5 then I’ll take all 5, but I won’t take 5 visits just to take them.

What are the other options that are in the pool of schools that you are seriously evaluating whether to take an official visit to?

Probably Georgia, Florida State, probably Clemson, probably Duke, Georgia Tech, I’ll have to try and make it out to Ohio State but I already said them.

What’s going into the process of deciding whether they are going to get an official from that group?

Yeah, that’s what my dad and I have to talk about, I’m not sure yet.

In college are you hoping to play more of an inside or outside linebacker position?

I think right now with the way I’m developing I could play inside because I think I’m smart enough to try and run the defense and I could help the coach with plays because I can recognize tendencies and things like that. I like the idea of play-calling.

Do you have an opinion yet based on who you have watched as to who does a good job at utilizing and developing their linebackers?

No, I haven’t thought about that aspect as much.

What would you say for you are going to the major deciding factors when you are making your decision?

Definitely the overall feel and I’m going to try and not make my decision just based on a coach because coaches come and go. The coaches are going to play a factor but it’s not going to be the main factor, then I’ll also look at their academic support and also how they treat incoming freshman because I have heard that the first couple weeks of going into college can be a hard transition with balancing college work and freedom.

Is it going to be more important from evaluating the coaches what their track record is in developing guys who went pro at your position, or is it more important how the relationship is with the coach?

I think it’s way more about the relationship because my thing is if you are good enough to go to the league, you are going to go to the league regardless.

How much will projected depth chart at Linebacker affect your decision?

No, not really. I’m not a cocky guy but I’m confident enough in my ability that I could go anywhere and play.

Is it a part of the equation for you in thinking about the football perception of the schools recruiting you?

That doesn’t matter to me how people feel about my decision, it’s about my family and what’s best for me and my family. There’s a lot of decisions I can make that are probably all good decisions, I just need to take my time and make the best decision.

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