Hutchinson's Warrick to Michigan State

From walk-on to playing in the Big 10 Conference. That's what happened to Nehemiah Warrick during his time with the Hutchinson Community College football team. The Blue Dragons' All-American all-purpose player from Bradenton, Fla., chose Michigan State over Tennessee late Thursday night as the place he would like to continue his college football career.

Warrick, who received as much Division I attention as any Blue Dragon sophomore this season, narrowed his final list of prospective schools down to the Spartans, Volunteers and Arkansas.

He is the first Blue Dragon sophomore to commit to a four-year school this season. He will play safety for the Spartans in 2006.

"I prayed about it and had a long decision to make," Warrick said. "I had to decide what was going to be the best situation for me and what was the best route I was to take. I figured out that Michigan State was the best place for me."

"We are proud of him," HCC head coach Craig Jersild said. "He's a guy that's a great person, a competitor and he's what you get into this business for. He walked on here and worked on his skills and academics and he's done a great job at both."

Warrick becomes the first Blue Dragon to sign with a Big 10 school since 2000 when offensive lineman Matt Koster went to Northwestern University. Warrick is the first Blue Dragon to sign with Michigan State since 1997, when cornerback Donvetis Franklin went to East Lansing and became an All-Big 10 performer for two seasons before becoming a star player in the Arena Football League.

Warrick came to HCC as a spring semester walk-on with no guarantee that he would make the 55-man roster. Quickly Warrick caught the attention of the Blue Dragon offensive coaches and Warrick became a member of what would become the most prolific receiving group in Blue Dragon history.

Warrick caught 36 balls as a freshman for 516 yards and five touchdowns. That was the 11th-best season for a receiver in Blue Dragon history. He had single-game highs of eight receptions against Independence and 147 receiving yards against Garden City and three touchdowns against Highland during his freshman season.

Warrick, Kyle Roberts and Steven Daniels went on to combine for 118 receptions, 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns to become the No. 1 receiving trio in Blue Dragon history.

"I came here as a walk-on with all the odds against me," Warrick said. "I came here to work hard and show the coaches what I can do. Coach gave me an opportunity and since then, it's been everything I've dreamed about. I got an opportunity here to show what I could do. It was tough, but it shows what hard work and dedication can do."

As his sophomore season rolled around, it was becoming apparent that Hutchinson had a glut at receiver, but a void to fill in the defensive secondary. Considered one of the best overall athletes on the team, the Blue Dragon coaching staff moved Warrick to the defensive side of the ball, a move that netted him All-Conference and All-America honors this past season.

Warrick started as a cornerback, but was moved to safety three games into the season.

"Coach knew I could be a receiver, but he knew I could be a better player on defense," Warrick said. "With my aggressive style, he knew I'd fit in on defense. He moved me to corner at first, but he felt like I would be a better safety. I never knew I would play defense. I tried it and loved it."

"He's such a great athlete and with his competitive nature, I felt like he was a can't miss combination," Jersild said. "His work ethic and talent fits on the defensive side the ball. He hasn't had a lot of experience over there, but when he leaves Michigan State he could be playing on Sunday."

Warrick was the second-leading tackler with 60 total tackles. He also had two interceptions, eight passes broken up, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble. Warrick had a season-high 10 tackles in the season opener against Dodge City and both of his interceptions came against Independence.

"The receiving corps had it down. I was needed more on defense," Warrick said. "I could have played either, but I was needed on defense and it was actually the best for me."

Warrick was also a special-teams mainstay. He had seven kickoff returns for 208 yards, including a touchdown. He also returned two punts for 38 yards and still managed to catch a few passes, hauling in three receptions for 57 yards. Warrick had his best all-around game against Independence on Sept. 17. He had seven tackles, two interceptions, two other passes broken up, two receptions for 16 yards, 160 all-purpose yards and an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a 28-12 Blue Dragon victory. Warrick was named co-NJCAA National Player of the Week for that effort.


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