ATLANTA — Nigel Warrior began his Tennessee career inside the College Football Hall of Fame. Now, his focus is on working toward ending it there.
The Scout five-star defensive back made his commitment inside the newly-opened college football mecca in downtown Atlanta, choosing the Vols over Alabama, Auburn and Georgia. Butch Jones' program was able to lock up Warrior's letter of intent on Wednesday due to his love of the atmosphere in Knoxville and the relationship he built with Jones and his staff after months of courting.
"Their persona about everything is amazing. That's what sold it to me," Warrior said. "They treated me like a family. Every school treated me like a family, but they treated me like I was home."
Warrior gravitated to the flashy personality of defensive backs coach Willie Martinez, who helped lock down the No. 2 safety in the 2016 class. Martinez, who played at Miami during the heyday of 'The U's' success, showed a passion that his newest player was drawn toward.
"He's something else," Warrior said. "He's always hype. I don't think he ever has a chill bone in him. He's just hype. I love that. I want a coach like that who can be on me but still have fun at the same time. He's that type of coach."
The Vols' newest defensive coordinator also played a key role in Warrior's decision, detailing to the Peachtree Ridge (Ga.) High School star how he plans to use him in a more measured tone. Bob Shoop has only been at Tennessee for less than a month now but is already making an impact on the recruiting trail, where his reputation as one of the most creative and successful defensive minds in the NCAA assisted in getting Warrior to commit to the Vols.
"Not just in the middle of the field, but all around," Warrior said of where Shoop wants to utilize him. "Coach Shoop, he has a different personality. Everybody's hype or everybody's this way, but he's in-between both. He has that swag about himself."
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound safety will don the same color orange his father, Dale Carter, wore as an All-American at Tennessee from 1990-91. Carter totaled 102 tackles, 10 passes broken up and nine interceptions in his two seasons in Knoxville and earned All-America honors in 1990 by averaging 29.82 yards per kickoff return on 17 attempts.
Warrior, who told IT he is contemplating hyphenating the name on his jersey to Warrior-Carter to honor his father, was lost for words as he articulated how special he felt following in his dad's footsteps.
"I'm just speechless," Warrior said. "He went there, and I'm going to try to break his records. I know it's going to be kind of hard, but I can do it."
Surrounded by the names of college football's most storied players, Warrior will now begin to carve out his own legacy. When it comes to starting that, there's no goal too big for one of the most coveted prospects in the country.
"I see a championship," he said. "Coach Jones, he's building up Tennessee. A 9-4 record last year and that's just his third year? That's amazing. Not many coaches can do that. We can only get so much better. I believe this is a championship team. I believe we can win an SEC and national championship."