For such a highly-regarded player, the recruitment of Lawton (OK) three-star running back Michael Warren was downright easy.
Iowa State extended an offer to Warren on Jan. 10. Precisely two weeks later, his plane touched down in Ames for an official visit. And before he left to go home, Warren told head coach Paul Rhoads and his parents — at the same time — that he was committing to the Cyclones's 2014 class.
"They had no idea," Warren said of his parents.
Why was it so seamless? Let's rewind.
As a junior at Lawton, Warren was buried, listed as the fourth-string running back. There was no recruiting interest.
"Going into my junior year I really didn't work hard," Warren told Scout.com in an earlier interview. "I was at the bottom of the depth chart."
In the offseason, Warren, realizing the opportunity, hit the weight room and bulked up to 185 pounds.
"He didn't work all that hard, but then going into this season he decided to work hard and get serious," Lawton head coach Randy Breeze told Scout.com earlier. "We knew he had a chance to be special. He went down to Texas A&M's camp and ran a 4.34 in the forty and that turned some heads."
Virtuoso play followed by virtuoso play — take, for instance, a 98-yard touchdown run in 11.8 seconds — word began to get out on Warren, who jumped onto the recruiting scene literally out of nowhere.
Northeastern Oklahoma JUCO offered, knowing there was a chance Warren wouldn't meet the academic qualification standards of a four-year university (Warren has since qualified).
Sometime at the beginning of his senior season season, Toledo sent a running backs coach named Louis Ayeni to scout Warren. The Rockets offered and immediately became one of Warren's top schools.
At the conclusion of Warren's record-breaking senior season ended (a school record 2,512 yards and 26 touchdowns on 269 carries), he turned his attention to recruiting, hoping for an offer from Oklahoma. The door to Norman closed when the Sooners accepted an offer from Oakley (CA) five-star tailback Joe Mixon.
Warren's favorite player is former OU star Adrian Peterson. He played 80 miles down the road from Norman. Now he says he has a big crimson chip on his shoulder — and knows his career will be compared by some to Mixon's at OU.
"Oh, yeah, most definitely," Warren said. "OU, they didn't exactly come through. To OU I was a third option. They wanted the running back from California and he ended up committing, so they didn't offer me. I probably had no plans of being a Sooner at all after that."
So Warren settled in on Tulsa and Toledo, ready to take official visits and make a decision, until he saw some news in early January that piqued his interest: Ayeni had been hired at Iowa State.
Charged with finding a second tailback for the Cyclones' 2014 recruiting class after Tommy Mister decommitted, Ayeni popped in tape of Warren a few days in on the job and the staff consensus was unanimous — the Cyclones needed to get in on Warren.
"I was guessing since coach went there he'd probably recruit me there, too," Warren told AllCyclones.com "I was hoping he would and he did."
Warren visited Tulsa on Jan. 17 and appreciated the time, but seeing Iowa State in person, it was too much for him to pass up, despite late-coming suitors (For instance: Ole Miss, Wisconsin and Arkansas all expressed interest, the latter calling Warren the morning he left for Ames).
"The minute I stepped on campus I felt a connection there. Everything was comfortable. They showed us the facilities, the weight room, the basketball game — everything was just great overall."
Warren realized Saturday night while out with the Cyclones' players he would commit and kept the secret from his parents until the Sunday meeting with Rhoads.
"That was the big moment for me," he said. I felt such a bond in everything we did that night."
Warren undoubtedly will have ISU's home game against OU circled on his 2014 calendar, although he's not sure yet what to expect of his role.
The Cyclones lost three scholarship running backs to graduation and should have snaps available to either incoming freshmen Warren or Martinez Syria, while it's expected Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy will take the lion's share of the carries, with help from Rob Standard.
"The first thing I need to work on is a faster burst," Warren said. "Breaking through the hole quicker after reading blocks.
"If they need me then I won't redshirt but if I do, that's fine with me."
Warren, after all, is used to waiting his turn.