Warren's wait near end?

All he wanted was to be closer to his cancer-stricken mother. All Florida State wanted was to make him stay put, and it took some harsh steps to force that outcome.

When tight end Brandon Warren requested a release from his scholarship so he could enroll at Tennessee – 15 minutes from his ailing mom – FSU flatly refused. Worse, several members of the Seminoles' coaching staff suggested that Warren's mother wasn't THAT sick.

Speaking during a break in Tennessee's preseason Picture Day, Warren said he was especially discouraged that "They knew the whole situation (yet) my mom had 'get well' letters from Coach (Bobby) Bowden and the other coaches."

Brandon knew his mother's condition was much more serious than that, especially when she backed out of a planned trip to watch FSU play Florida in November of 2006.

"My family canceled that trip," he recalled. "My mom wasn't doing good, and I felt like I needed to be home."

One he realized FSU was not going to release him from his scholarship, Warren dropped out of school in February of 2007, hopped in his car and began the 382-mile trek from Tallahassee back home. Naturally, he second-guessed himself during the seven-hour drive.

"I did a little bit," he conceded, "but I knew my family was more important than football at the moment. I'm a family type of guy. I knew my family needed me, and I knew I had a chance to get in here (UT) if I stayed focused."

Because he had fallen behind academically by leaving FSU, Warren had to spend the 2007-08 school year at Knoxville's Pellissippi State Community College. He compiled a 2.8 grade-point average there and got a lot of support from Demetrice Morley, who also was looking to boost his grades at Pellissippi after flunking out of Tennessee in the spring of '07.

"I knew Demetrice Morley, who had been through a little situation himself," Warren recalled. "We kind of leaned on each other because we both wanted to be here."

After finishing up at Pellissippi State, Warren enrolled in summer-school classes at UT and attempted to keep a low profile.

"I tried to stay isolated," he said. "I spent more family time than anything – being home from my mom and trying to stay away from the media because I knew everybody wanted to know what was going on."

Warren, wearing jersey No. 1, took part in the Vols' first preseason workout today. Still, he is awaiting word from the SEC office as to whether he'll be eligible for the 2008 season.

"There's not a day, an hour, a minute that goes by that I don't think about it," he said. "I wish the process would hurry up but I understand that they are dealing with a lot, too. I just have to be patient and wait my turn.

"I think it's coming soon, though.... I've got a pretty good feeling about it."

He has a pretty good feeling about Tennessee, too, especially head coach Phillip Fulmer.

"I just want to thank Coach Fulmer and the whole staff for giving me this opportunity," he said.

Naturally, his feelings toward Bowden and Florida State are not quite so warm.

"I have respect for the program and stuff," Warren said, choosing his words carefully. "I don't really have too many bad feelings. I just with they would've made the right decision."

Looking back, does he wish he'd signed with Tennessee coming out of Alcoa High School?

"Oh, yeah," he said. "Definitely."

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