At the conclusion of his senior year at Bryan High School in Texas, defensive lineman Ty Warren was being recruited by colleges around the country. And for good reason.
During his three-year career with the Vikings, Warren racked up 248 tackles, 22 sacks, 69 tackles for a loss and 90 quarterback pressures. He was selected to the first-team all-state team after his senior season.
Warren decided to stick close to home and play college football at Texas A&M, located in nearby College Station, only miles from Warren's home in Bryan. The decision had as much to do with family as it did with the winning tradition at A&M.
"It was the best situation for me and my family," Warren said during a news conference in which the Patriots introduced their draft selections to the press. "Financially, they could come and see me and in regards to me going to USC or Tennessee, everybody wouldn't be able to come and see me like they did at Texas A&M."
Unlike so many other heralded high school players, Warren continued to play well in college and improve each season. The New England Patriots believed Warren was one of the best players in the country as they selected him with the 13th pick in the recent NFL draft.
Warren's former high school coach, Marty Criswell, was not surprised that Warren was drafted in the first round.
"Some great high school players try to take a play off here and there," Criswell said. "Ty never did that. Whenever we needed a big play, Ty made it. He had an opportunity at Texas A&M and took advantage of it. We had another player in the same class as Ty who signed with A&M as well. There was debate as to who was actually going to be better. Ty got drafted and the other player never made it."
Criswell credits Warren's work ethic for why he became a first round draft choice. Criswell said Warren's parents also deserve a lot of credit for raising a hardworking young man.
"I'm so proud of him," said Criswell, who visited with Warren only days after the draft. "Ty doesn't have any character flaws. There is not a criminal bone in his body. He always makes good decisions in life. He is only 18 hours short of his degree at A&M. He works hard on the field and in the classroom."
Warren has not forgotten his roots. Soon after the draft, he visited his former coaches at Bryan, bringing them Patriots caps and shirts in order to say thanks, Criswell said. Criswell then asked Warren to speak to the Bryan freshmen football players, and without hesitating, he gave a speech to remember.
"He comes in here bright and early on a Monday, and then without any preparation, he was fabulous," Criswell said. "When he played here for us, he was a very quiet person. You couldn't force him to speak. But he just walked into the room where the freshmen were sitting and told them that he was just like them only a few years ago.
"Ty said the freshmen need to do three things. One, don't let drugs and alcohol rob you of your talent. Two, your teachers and coaches are here to help you, so listen to them. And three, be proud of your family. Ty said he represents the Vikings, the Aggies and the Warren family. If I was given a month to write a speech like that, I couldn't do it."
Now that Warren is a first-round draft pick, he knows there will be high expectations of him. That is nothing new, since those same expectations were placed on him when he left high school. So Warren will do what he does best, work hard to improve any weaknesses he may have.
When Warren's playing days are over, he doesn't plan on leaving the game. Instead, he plans on giving back to the game, a game that has made his dreams come true.
"Not many people get to have their dream job," said Warren to NFL.com. "How does it feel to have yours? It is something that I always wanted to do. I have been playing football since second grade and I plan to keep on playing, even when my days are up playing professionally. Then I plan on coaching. It is one of the dreams of mine that I have had. I just feel blessed to be a part of the dream because not many people get to do what they said they wanted to do at a younger age in life. I'm just blessed and thankful and I am going to take full advantage of this opportunity."
Story courtesty Red Line Editorial, Inc.