ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart talks about the importance of intensity on the football field, so there was no one better to replace highly-esteemed veteran Mel Tucker than Charlton Warren.
After all, Warren was Air Force’s “Mr. Intensity” Award winner his senior year at the Air Force Academy. Warren won the award for establishing himself as the most outstanding performer in the weight room.
Warren has proven himself just as effective as an assistant coach and recruiter. Upon crossing paths with Warren earlier this week, Smart came to the conclusion that he was the perfect fit.
Regardless of who gets named UGA defensive coordinator — Warren’s hire would seem to indicate a promotion with for either or both linebackers coaches Dan Lanning Glenn Schumann — Smart is the de-facto DC.
Smart is also extremely active coaching the secondary and will work closely with Warren on a daily basis, further necessitating the need for him to find the right match.
The fact that Warren (41) and Smart (43) are close in age is a positive. So is the fact that they were both accomplished FBS players.
Smart was an All-SEC safety for the Bulldogs. Warren helped lead the Falcons to consecutive 10-win seasons in 1997 and 1998 after a standout career at Forest Park High School in Atlanta.
“His entire coaching career has been on the defensive side of the ball and especially defensive backs,” Smart said. “He has developed an outstanding record and reputation in the coaching profession and he’ll bring great knowledge and energy to our staff.”
Warren has been praised at each of his coaching stops, from Air Force, to Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee and most recently Florida.
Warren broke into the SEC following the 2016 season when Butch Jones allowed then-Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop to hand-pick his secondary coach.
Shoop, who this past season was defensive coordinator for the No. 2 scoring defense in the nation at Mississippi State, was quickly impressed with Warren.
“Charlton’s brought credibility and leadership to the room,” Shoop said entering the 2017 campaign. “He’s done a really good job of developing a lot of the players throughout the course of the spring and summer.”
Tennessee, despite a barrage of injuries, allowed the second-fewest pass yards per game in the SEC in 2017 and ranked seventh in the league in pass efficiency defense.
Warren said after taking the job with the Vols that growing up in Georgia, he felt drawn to the SEC where he could recruit and compete against the best.
“Being a guy from Georgia, growing up in the South, being in SEC Country …, “ Warren said. “For me as you go through where you would want to coach, being in the SEC, the SEC East, having a chance to compete gains the best and recruit against the best were things that drew me to Tennessee.”
As excited as Warren was two years ago to join up with what was then a Top 25 program, he’s sure to be even more ecstatic about joining a top 5 program like Georgia.
Warren’s jump into Power 5 football came when former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini hired Warren after the 2013 season. The Cornhuskers ranked fifth in pass efficiency the following year, leading to Warren being retained even after Pelini was fired.
North Carolina hired Warren before the 2015 season and his impact was immediate. The Tar Heels had the most improved pass defense in the nation in 2015 in efficiency and yards per attempt.
Warren’s pass defense ranked 12th in the country in passing yards allowed per game, and both of his starting cornerbacks earned All-ACC honors in 2016 at North Carolina.
Florida’s defense made a gigantic jump last season, too, going from 81st in the nation with 17 takeaways to tied for 11th with 26.
“I can never separate what I learned in those years in the military,” Warren told the Orlando Sentinel in a February, 2018 interview. “I think where that comes across for me is the discipline and accountability that I demand from those guys day in and day out.”