It took only one campus visit for T.J. Warren to realize where he would continue his football career. After spending the weekend touring Furman's campus and discussing future on-field plans with coaches there, the Ooltewah senior committed to the Paladins.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Warren, who played a hybrid linebacker/defensive end as well as receiver for the Owls the last two seasons, projects as a strongside linebacker at the Southern Conference school.
"I was sold on everything they had to offer," Warren said. "The campus is one of the most beautiful there is, academically it offers everything I want, and the football program is pretty good, too. I had never heard one negative thing about Furman the whole time I've been recruited by them, and it was just an opportunity I couldn't pass up.
"Leading up to getting a phone call from Furman about two weeks ago, I was stressed. I had an offer from Austin Peay and UTC was recruiting me, but once I got to Furman and saw it for myself and talked with the coaches and other players, I knew that's where I want to be."
Last season Warren made 51.5 total tackles, 13 sacks, 24 tackles for loss and a pass interception. He also was one of the Owls' leading receivers.
"He was a guy that through the season didn't get a lot of interest because people weren't sure what position he would play," Ooltewah coach Shannon Williams said. "I was selling him as an athlete because I knew he can play somewhere -- it's just a matter of where he fits in best. Once we sent out his highlight tape after the season, the interest in him really took off. People saw his closing speed and his ability to rush the passer, and suddenly he had a lot of coaches calling.
"It's an ideal fit. He's a really strong leader and academically, so he will do well there. He will grow into that spot, probably add about 20-25 pounds and then be awfully tough to deal with."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6923.