De’Jahn Warren: The real nuggets to know about the nation’s No. 1 JUCO prospect
Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. This entry serves as the first DawgNation.com on 4-star junior college cornerback target De’Jahn “Nugget” Warren out of Lackawanna Community College in Pennsylvania.
When it comes to junior college prospects, the road is sometimes the telling part of their story.
There is often a hiccup or a detour along the way. The talent level is obvious, but the junior college level was necessary to sustain their careers. That level offers a second chance at playing on the biggest stages that college football has to offer.
De’Jahn “Nugget” Warren has endured the hiccup, the detour, the setback, the hurdle and then found a speed turn back in the right direction toward major college football.
The nation’s No. 1 junior college prospect (per the 247Sports Composite) has essentially set his top four schools by naming Georgia, Oklahoma, Penn State and Tennessee as his four official visits. Will he add a fifth school to that list? He’s not certain of that yet.
When he enrolls at one of those programs in late December of 2020, he will be 21 years old. He will be a 21-year-old junior with a long story to tell his new teammates.
Let’s rewind his career like the back of a football card. It is the best way to show how he just would not give up.
- Fall of 2013: His freshman season at Suitland High School (Junior varsity/14 years old)
- Fall of 2014: His sophomore season at Suitland High School (Junior varsity/15 years old)
- Fall of 2015: Sat out junior season. Academically ineligible to play at Suitland High/16 years old)
- Fall of 2016: Sat out. Academically ineligible to play at Suitland High School/17 years old)
- Fall of 2017: Reclassified to the class of 2018. Transferred to The Avalon School for his senior season (It was a two-hour commute each way to attend and play football/18 years old)
- Fall of 2017: Could only play five games at The Avalon School. He tried to return to Suitland High. Had to enroll at an alternative school to finish his high school education. (18 years old)
- Spring of 2018: Graduated from high school. (18 years old)
- Fall of 2018: Could not play at Lackawanna Community College (financial hardship/19 years old)
- Fall of 2019: Walked on and became a junior college All-American at Lackawanna Community College/20 years old)
Their own personal struggle defines a lot of junior college players. That is certainly the case here. There’s something they need to learn by playing junior college ball.
It often has nothing to do with football. Check out what his first season at Lackawanna Community College looked like last fall.
It will impress. Check out that initial big hit and the backflip he nearly makes in the air while coming down with a pick.
It sounds like he now has both halves of that student-athlete part down. Finally.
“I don’t even have any grade issues now,” Warren said. “I can calmly give a college program my transcripts and know that I am fine. I gave it my all after that last time when it felt like I got kicked to the curb. I’ve made up for all that I’ve missed.”
Warren has played basically five games of varsity football in five seasons. Unbelievable.
Then he had to sit out his first potential season at the junior college level. When he arrived at the junior college level, he was a walk-on buried on the depth chart.
That was fine. He finally had a chance to play. It was something for him just to do that.
It takes 187 seconds for De’Jahn Warren to tell this story
Ask Warren to recite all the twists and turns in his road to get to where he is today. He can.
He will do so briskly. It is a lot of material to cover. He covers that ground the way he does the 40. His HUDL profile page lists a time of 4.35 seconds at that distance.
There were those two summers after 7-on-7 season when he learned he didn’t have the grades to be eligible to play that fall. There was the attempt to restart his football career at The Avalon School. The opportunity there to play for a private school just took up too many hours in the day with the commute.
“It was just too far,” Warren said. “By the time I was getting home every night it was already 11 o’ clock at night.”
There were high school administrators that he feels left him to be. That was balanced out by a high school coaches who put in a good word for him with the staff at Lackawanna. He won’t forget the times he always spent trying to raise his high school GPA.
The plan to reclassify to a different graduating class to be able to play again that never came to be. It would up with him turning in his pads after a glimmer of hope.
“I was always good at football,” Warren said. “From the 7-on-7 seasons, I was receiving attention from a few colleges but they never really could look my way because I didn’t have the grades.”
He flies through all the steps of his journey. But it still takes him three minutes and seven seconds to describe everything that took place from the summer before his junior year to the chance to finally enroll and play for Lackawanna Community College in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
“I would have graduated high school in 2017 if I didn’t have to reclassify,” he said.
What kept De’Jahn Warren from giving up on football?
Warren covered a lot of valleys in those 187 seconds. There were multiple points where he was on the verge of giving up on football. Those took place when he was 17, 18 and 19 years old.
He cried to them and was humble enough to admit that.
“I was telling my friends ‘Look man, every time I try to play football it is just not working out for me. So this really might not be for me’ and I just thought that. I thought that God was sending me signs like that this football stuff was not for you.”
There’s a wise piece of time-tested parenting advice that comes into play here. Parents tell their children to watch who they hang around with. Who they hang around with is who they are.
Friends will shape their actions. Warren’s friends certainly did.
“They would call and check up on me every day,” Warren said. “They would come by the house. They just really were there to brighten up my spirits.”
He feels they supported him through all those valleys just as much as his family did.
“I learned in the very long run here that you just have to push harder,” he said. “I learned that you can’t be an athlete without being a student first. I really had to learn that. Once I knew that books will take you to school and then you can move on to football, I had to change my ways and grow up for real.”
“I was so stuck on the fact that I was a good football player and they couldn’t just pass me by but it really doesn’t work that way.”
That’s good lip service. Warren can talk the talk. He actually wants to study communications as his college major at his next university home.
But he owns that speech, too.
“I put my books over my football,” he said. “I sit in the front of the class. I ask a lot of questions. I really try to apply myself in the classroom now. I’ve really actually started to like school because before I didn’t really like school. I was younger back then. I didn’t really know.”
He lost a beloved grandmother when he was younger. But he doesn’t really hold that up for him as an excuse. It was just another thing that caused him to lose focus.
“I just wasn’t there mentally at the time,” he said. “That’s alright, though. I had to make up for that. I’ve made up for that.”
When he had to finish out his high school career at alternative school, Warren said that it was because he was told the administration didn’t want any returning seniors at his old school.
The route didn’t get any easier after that. He didn’t have the finances to enroll and walk-on to the Lackawanna football team in the fall of 2018.
It meant another lost season.
Warren enrolled in January of last year and walked on. He didn’t receive any scholarship aid until spring practices prior to the 2019 season. When he started practicing with the team, he worked him way up from the fourth or fifth team.
He turned heads quickly by forcing four fumbles in fall camp. It wasn’t until an unfortunate injury to one of his teammates allowed him the chance to start last fall.
“I’m so thankful for Lackawanna,” he said. “They really helped me out. I’m not the richest person in the world or a perfect person but whenever there was any issue, they really helped me out. They gave me this opportunity and I can really count on my coaches.”
When his turn finally came, he maximized it.
“I had fun,” Warren said. “I was like a kid in a candy store. To actually be playing football again, I just tore it up out there. I was so happy to be playing football again and like I said I was really just about to give it all up. I always think about that. I was not going to be a football player and I didn’t know what the next step of my life was going to be.”
“To be able to play football again really just brought out the best in me. It really taught me a lot about myself and my character and the man that I wanted to be.”
Lackawanna has had multiple top 10 overall NFL Draft picks come out of their program. No one has received that college attention that Warren has up to this point.
The chances for Georgia with De’Jahn Warren
Warren has established when he will share his college decision with the world.
I will be committing on December 14th
— De’Jahn “Nugget” Warren (@Ayoooo_daeee) May 18, 2020
Georgia is set up to get the last official visit prior to that decision.
— De’Jahn “Nugget” Warren (@Ayoooo_daeee) May 18, 2020
Is there a reason for that? Warren said there wasn’t anything specific. It is somewhat ironic that he shares the same last name with his potential position coach at Georgia.
It would be Charlton Warren coaching De’Jahn Warren. What do those two think about that?
“It was quite funny because coach Warren is the coach that offered me and he joked around saying that we could be cousins,” Warren said. “So that’s something we always bring up every here and there.”
The route that former JUCO cornerback D.J. Daniel took to playing in 14 games is a much more substantial pull here for the Bulldogs. It is lost on most of DawgNation that Daniel started the last 11 games of his first season at Georgia.
“Before I went to Lackawanna I wanted to know who was the best corner in JUCO was so I had an idea on what I had to do to be the best at my position,” he said. “So D.J’s name came up. I saw that he was committed to Georgia so I watched his tape. Ever since then I had an idea on who he was so I looked out for his name whenever I watched a Georgia game.”
Can a junior college player play immediatelyat UGA? The Bulldogs don’t have to sell that to Warren. He saw Daniel do that last fall on the top-rated scoring defense in the nation.
“It is backed up because DJ was in my position before,” De’Jahn Warren said. “So them telling me I can do the same thing is believable because it has been done.”
Warren said he has a good vibe with Charlton Warren at UGA because when they talk, it is usually not about sports. That relationship has come together over FaceTime and text messages.
“To me, I say that coach Warren is funny,” Warren said. “He makes me laugh. He’s got a sense of humor so it is pretty cool talking to him. We just be cracking jokes all the time about anything and everything. Every time he speaks to me, he is always smiling on the call. He gives off that great energy to me and I reciprocate that energy.”
— De’Jahn “Nugget” Warren (@Ayoooo_daeee) May 5, 2020
What does he like best about Georgia?
“Well since I haven’t been down there yet I would say the communication,” Warren said. “They have really good communication with me all the time.”
He said he has also spoken to Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Dan Lanning.
The other schools in contention here for Warren
Georgia. Oklahoma. Penn State. Tennessee. Why did those schools get official visits?
Warren lists a simple criteria.
“I do all of that like this,” he says. “If I can see myself playing for your program and you are actually reaching out to me and recruiting me, then I will set up a visit with you.”
“Those schools they kept up their communication with me and they talked to me just about every day or every other day. They call my phone a lot and we’ve actually built relationships.”
What is he looking for?
“I just need a home feeling to be honest,” he said. “This is my first time going through this process so it is taking me a little bit longer to make my decision. Especially with the coronavirus. I already had visits set up before this whole situation happened. But I will say this virus really made me sit down and think more. You feel me? When I go to these schools, I really need to get that home feeling because I’m choosing schools for these official visits that I can really see myself playing at for a couple of years.”
Warren said he will have three years of eligibility to play two seasons once he signs during the early period in December. If he had the chance to visit schools this weekend, he would go check out Maryland first.
That campus is only about 10 or 15 minutes away from his house. The Terrapins are recruiting him hard, but not like those four schools. He said that the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped away the chance for him to take about six or seven important unofficial visits.
De’Jahn Warren: Did we mention his “Nugget” nickname?
Everyone calls him “Nugget.” That nickname is still going strong.
“If I had a dollar for every time somebody has called me ‘Nugget’ then I would be a trillionaire,” he said. “Everybody and I mean even my teachers call me ‘Nugget’ every day.
If so, he wouldn’t need that NFL contract that he’s working toward.
“It started off in high school,” he said. “When I was a freshman, I was about five feet and four inches tall. Maybe 5-foot-5. I was real small. I’m not going to lie to you. I had a short blonde bushy fade with a blonde patch in the front.”
Warren weighed about 85-90 pounds then. It meant he was a return man initially for Suitland’s junior varsity.
“So I returned my first kick which was in practice for a touchdown and my coach asked me what was my name,” Warren said.
That first impression serves as the best impression here.
“I took off my helmet and I looked at him in his face and I said ‘My name is De’Jahn Warren.’ He looked at me and laughed. He said ‘I’m going to call you ‘Nugget’ and it has stuck since then.”
If he makes it to the league as a high draft pick, the endorsement dollars might be there.
“I have got to have a nugget deal,” Warren said. “It is only right.”
It is only right knowing the road he has been on so far. He had those academic hurdles and still needed a major growth spurt (about seven inches and 75 pounds) to go from a “Nugget” to a college football prospect.
“The reason I play football now is for my both of my siblings and my younger cousins,” Warren said. “I’m the oldest male in my immediate family now. I have to set the example now. I’m the first one to go to college. I’m just trying to pave the way for them now. I’m all about paving the way for the next generation of my family now. This is all bigger than me now.”
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