Warren's playmaking skills show late against Tide

By: Dudley E. Dawson
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Arkansas wide receiver De'Vion Warren (9) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of a football game against Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Arkansas wide receiver De'Vion Warren (9) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter of a football game against Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

— When you are an opposing player who makes Alabama head coach Nick Saban mad, you probably have had a couple of special moments.

That was the case for Arkansas sophomore receiver and kick returner De’Vion Warren, who caught a touchdown pass and ran a kickoff back 78 yards to set up another score in the fourth quarter of the Razorbacks' 65-31 loss to the Crimson Tide on Saturday.

Saban blasted his team in the post-game press conference for allowing Warren, a former Ouachita, La., Parrish quarterback, to set up the game’s final score.

“Yeah, I got one pretty good return,” Warren said. “We blocked it well and (Arkansas head coach Chad Morris) said, 'We've got nothing to lose, come on let's get some motivation and return one.' They kicked it and we blocked it good as a team. It was good to be able to make an impact like that in the game even late like it was.

“As a returner you have to have good vision. You just have to trust, pray and hope that your blockers can make you a hole this time and this time the blockers made a great hole. Being the person I am I just saw the hole and I just ran.”

Warren, who has returned seven kickoffs for an average of 30.6 yards per return, would love to have another with family in attendance this Saturday night when Arkansas (1-5, 0-3) hosts Ole Miss (4-2, 0-2) in a 6:30 p.m. game at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium.

“My family always comes to each game,” Warren said. “ I have family that actually lives in Little Rock and they're coming up. It's good to actually have family come see you play no matter where you are at.”

Warren’s two best career returns have come this season against Alabama and last season against Auburn, where he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score.

“It felt good not because it's Alabama, but just because I haven't returned one in awhile,” Warren said. “It felt real good to make an impact like that.

“It just shows what kind of competitor I am. It just shows I'm always ready to make an impact no matter who the team is. If it's the No. 1 or No. 2 team or a team not ranked. Just being ready to make an impact any way I can.”

Warren said it did pain him to have to fair catch so many Crimson Tide kickoffs during the game that were either near or into the end zone. The fair catches gave Arkansas the ball at the 25-yard line.

“Sometimes it does, but I have to understand Alabama kicks you high and put a lot of air under the ball,” Warren said. “We've got to be smart about it and make sure the offense has great field position when they get on the field.”

Warren was the second option for Arkansas quarterback Ty Storey on his touchdown catch.

“The tight end is the first option,” Warren said. “But at the film looking how they drop down, Coach (Morris) always told me if they drop down go ahead and break it up. Just studying film and doing it multiple times in practice I learned that if he drops down I'm go up it. Ty threw a pretty ball I just had to make the catch.”

It was his first college touchdown reception and he was happy to be congratulated instead of passing out the congratulations for once.

"It felt good,” Warren said. “It felt real good. It felt better to celebrate with my teammates. In the receiver group (receivers coach Justin) Stepp always emphasizes if someone else scores you have to meet them. That was what they did after I scored.”

Warren’s career has been stymied some by injuries and he said it feels good to be healthy and back with the team.

“It's a team sport so being apart from your brothers it's kinda heartbreaking to have to watch the game from home and not be on the sideline," he said.

He hopes he’ll be more involved in the game plan this week.

“Only the time of the game plan will tell,” Warren said. “I just try to play my role as the week goes on. Just be a 100-percent every practice.”

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.