Missouri's T.J. Warren Pushing For Starting Cornerback Spot

Missouri redshirt freshman cornerback T.J. Warren was motivated by sitting out a year ago.

Missouri cornerbacks coach Greg Brown had one of best quotes of preseason practice so far when he was talking about the Tigers’ starting cornerback spot opposite veteran Aarion Penton

“Aarion’s had a track record. I believe he’s been a two-year starter here, if I’m not mistaken, at Missouri,” Brown said. “After that we’ve got a help wanted sign out in the yard. We’re looking for guys. That’s the fun thing. At this time right now there’s a lot of guys in the mix and there’s no telling how that spot is going to end up. That’s an exciting thing for us.”

Redshirt freshman T.J. Warren has been hampered by a right hamstring injury in preseason practice, but he’s hoping to earn that cornerback job going into the season opener at West Virginia

Sitting out during his first season on campus a year ago served as motivation for Warren, a 5-foot-11, 200-pounder from Georgia who was one of the big surprises for the Tigers in the spring.

When Missouri took the field for the Black & Gold Game in April, Warren was one of the Tigers’ starting cornerbacks. 

“After I got redshirted my freshman year I attacked the spring with the mindset of I always wanted to be the best and get on top,” Warren said. “So I just worked hard all spring, working on the techniques I needed that I was lacking my freshman year and that’s what happened and I moved up to the first string.”

When the Tigers returned for the start of preseason practice, Warren was still there opposite Penton at cornerback and he’s earned some praise from his veteran teammate. 

“T.J. is very physical,” Penton said. “He has a motor, too, to be more heavy set, like 200 (pounds). But when the pads come on, big hands guy, physical, stout and a hard hitter.”

Penton said Warren has similarities to Kenya Dennis, the other starting cornerback a year ago. 

“Similar to KD in how strong he is and stout,” Penton said. “He also has a motor, so if they try to go up top he can get back into hip coverage and make a play on the ball.”

That’s a comparison Warren likes. 

Dennis was Warren’s big brother when he arrived on campus and the youngster considers Dennis a big mentor for him. 

“He would tell me all the time, with your size you can do a lot,” Warren said. “So I ran with it.”

Warren said he considers his physical play to be his best asset, but he’s able to find a balance between being a cornerback who can cover but also come up and make tackles.

What does Warren enjoy the most? 

“I can say being physical and coming up and tackling,” he said.

That could make him a valuable contributor to a Missouri defense that returns seven starters from their formidable group last season. 

Warren is hoping that his work since last season will put him in position to earn that starting cornerback spot. At the least he’s set himself up to contribute in some way during his redshirt freshman campaign. 

He’s a different player than he was a year ago, he said.

“I’m more confident in my playing style, I play a lot more comfortable and I can trust myself,” Warren said. “Last year I wouldn’t do that.”



You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at

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