One of the stars for the West squad during preparation for this Saturday’s Army All-American Bowl has been Long Beach (CA) Poly defensive back Donovan Warren. He has found the chance to showcase his skills and see where they rank among some of the nation’s best has been a real privilege.
“It’s been real great going up against the best players in the country,” Warren said. “There’s nothing else you can ask for. There’s nothing better than the chance to go up against the best every day and getting better yourself.”
For many players in this game, the rise in level of competition can be somewhat intimidating. That’s not the case with Warren. He welcomes the challenge with open arms. He draws a great deal of confidence from the experience he gained after squaring off with a few of his gifted teammates over the years.
“I’ve played with some great receivers… like DeSean Jackson who’s at Cal, Terrance Austin who’s at UCLA, and Travon Patterson (USC),” he said. “Some of these guys (in San Antonio) are not as advanced as them. That kind of gives me an advantage when I play against some of them. But these guys are talented and they are real athletic. They can go up and get the ball. The toughest player I’ve faced has been Terrence Tolliver. He’s legit. We’ve been going at it. He can go up and get the ball. At the same time, he gave me my respect and I give him his respect.”
Another player that has earned Warren’s respect is future Michigan signal caller Ryan Mallett. The two talented youngsters have been seen joking around in between plays at times, but when the whistle blows, they both get after it.
“Ryan Mallett (laughing)… that’s my boy,” Warren said. “Me and Mallett were on the trip together to Michigan, so we go back some. Mallett is always talking about ‘Go Blue! Go Blue!’ (Laughing). He is a real good player. He has the strongest arm I’ve ever seen. He makes me stay on the receiver. I have to stick to them until the play is over because he has such a strong arm. He can hurt you with some of the passes he throws because they’re coming so hard, but I’m not hesitant. If I see it I’m going to get it.”
Mallett has been hurling Michigan’s recruiting pitch quite effectively during the week, and according to Warren, the Rose Bowl corroborated what fire-balling friend has been saying all along.
“I watched some of it, but not all of it,” Warren said regarding Monday’s match-up with USC. “Man, I know after seeing the part that I did see that Michigan needs some DB’s! (Laughing) Really though, the bowl games really haven’t affected my decision as far as how I feel about the schools. One game is not going to change my mind about anything.”
The fact that Warren still holds the Wolverines in such high regard stems from an official visit he took to Ann Arbor back in early October. It was that trip that established the Maize & Blue as the lone out of state school on his list.
“Michigan was great,” Warren recalled. “I loved it out there! It was the Michigan State game, which was a rivalry, so it was real crazy. People were all jacked up and everything. I got a chance to sit down with all of the coaches and see all of facilities. Plus I found out more about the education. I didn’t know Michigan’s academics were ranked so high. It was a real good visit.”
Even with that very favorable impression, Michigan is most likely fighting an uphill battle against in-state options; USC, UCLA, and California. He has friends/former teammates on the rosters of all three clubs. In addition, the proximity to home is something his mother really likes. Still, he continues to insist that the Wolverines are right in the thick of his recruitment. The list of criteria he will use to come to a decision gives all four teams an opportunity to land him.
“I want to get on the field as quickly as possible,” he said. “Wherever I go, I‘m going to have the chance to go in and compete according to what all of the coaches are telling me. I don’t want to go in and redshirt anywhere. I want to have a tight relationship with the coaches, and I like all of the guys recruiting me. I like Coach (English)…a lot! Coach E is real down the earth. He is real cool people. I also like Coach Walker at UCLA. Coach E and Coach Walker are top guys. Also Coach Norton at USC. Another factor is life after football. A lot of people don’t play football for long, so I look at the alumni and what they’ve done as far as academics, connections, and stuff like that.”
“I’ll just say it’s a hard decision,” he later continued. “There are so many things that it comes down to. Right now there’s not one particular school that I can focus on and say that’s where my heart is at. It’s going to be up to me when it comes down to it. I’ve been on all of my visits by myself. Whatever I feel in my heart… that’s what it’s going to be.”
Warren was approached with the idea of possibly announcing a decision during this weekend’s U.S. Army All American bowl, but he would not deviate from his patient approach to his recruitment.
“I’m waiting until I get home,” he said. “I’ve got one more trip on January 12th to UCLA. After that I should be wrapping it up. I’ll probably decide a week or two before signing day.”
GoBlueWolverine will have more on Warren in the coming days and weeks.