Rockwall High (Texas) senior Chris Warren anticipates watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, when the Seattle Seahawks face the New England Patriots. He’s rooting for Seattle, of course, given that his dad Chris Warren was a star running back for the Seahawks and is the team’s all-time leading rusher.
But as much as Warren looks forward to the big game, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound running back is even more wrapped up in National Signing Day three days later.
Warren’s recruiting letters are hidden inside two boxes tucked out of sight in his house but out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind. His said his college decision has been lingering on his mind, and he described the recruiting process as “bittersweet” — long and stressful, but also fun. At the end of the day, he just wants to “be a part of something great.”
Of the 24 offers he has received, Warren told USA TODAY High School Sports he’s down to Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Washington.
“I have the right influences around me. So I do believe that I’ll make the right choice in the end,” said Warren, a four-star prospect ranked as the No. 8 running back nationally and the No. 12 player overall in Texas by the 247Sports Composite rankings.
He doesn’t mind going far from the comforts of home in Rockwall, where he lives with his mother K’tara Lopez. His dad resides in Virginia. That most of his family is based in Seattle potentially makes Washington a larger consideration.
Warren said his mother had a strong influence on making school a priority throughout childhood and high school. So Warren’s college decision, he said, will be most concerned with going to a school that offers strong academics first then, of course, somewhere he can contribute to the football program, either by helping to rebuild it or have a chance to play for a national championship.
As Warren weighs his college options, he will lean on his instincts as opposed to others for guidance. Not even his father has an inside tip.
“It’s hard to tell. I’m trying to get a read on the tweets he’s sent out, and I can’t read it one bit as to where he’s leaning toward,” Chris told USA TODAY High School Sports. “I’m in the same boat as him. There’s not one place that really stands out. They’re all great schools and great programs. I’ll support him anywhere.”
He added the main advice he’s given his son is to go where he feels he has the best chance to succeed, on and off the field. Warren wants to study biology or physiology and intends to become a physical therapist — that is after hopefully playing in the NFL.
Warren’s dad was a fourth-round pick by the Seahawks in the 1990 NFL Draft. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection while he played with the team, after which he joined the Dallas Cowboys for two seasons and finished his career with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2000.
But as much as Warren desires to align himself on a path to the NFL and find success in the league like his dad, he is quick to differentiate himself.
“I don’t want to be remembered as someone else’s child. I want to be remembered as my own person,” Warren said. “And I want to have my own impact.”
Though Warren has been playing football since age five, when his dad introduced him to the game, he feels his development into one of the most sought after recruits for his position in the class of 2015 is surreal.
“Honestly, I never thought I had the skill set to play in college,” he said. “And I never thought that I’d get noticed.”
But Rockwall football coach Rodney Webb isn’t surprised by Warren, who was a finalist for the U.S. Army Player of the Year Award, which recognizes the nation’s most outstanding senior in high school football.
“He’s one of the biggest running backs around, and he also has sprinter’s speed,” Webb said. “Chris is very much a believer in the team first attitude as well. It’s always really beneficial for high-level Division-I caliber athletes to have core values of teamwork and cooperation. He has all the tools you could ask for.”
Chris also credits Warren’s mom for his son’s driven and mature disposition.
“His mom did an excellent job at keeping him involved. He was always at camps growing up,” Chris said. “She’s been great with his recruiting as well.”
He points that his son’s team-centric mentality makes him ready to transition to the next level and continue to experience the success he had last season, when Warren helped the Yellowjackets to a 12-1 record while rushing for 2,329 yards and had 36 total offensive touchdowns.
Warren maintains high expectations of himself as he contemplates his next move. He’s conscious that his college decision will greatly impact his development, but he said he’s prepared to work as hard and as much as he needs to accomplish his goals.
Added his dad, “He’s very focused. He’s a fierce competitor and a perfectionist. When he gets things in his mind, he’s determined to make it happen.”