De’Jahn Warren has one of the best stories we can chronicle on the pages of DawgNation about a football recruit. It is certainly one which includes far more chances to give up on a football dream than almost every other elite college football prospect we profile on this page.
For a lot of junior college prospects, their story is about both where they’ve been and where they are headed. Warren is going to be Georgia Bulldog. That’s where he is headed.
Why did he choose UGA?
“I like their personality on the field,” Warren said about the program earlier this month. “That matches up with mine because I’m a very animated athlete. I like to have fun. But I am also disciplined. I’m not a tune-everybody-else-out athlete. I like to have a little bit of fun out there. The Georgia coaches allow their players to play with a little bit of swag and I like that.”
It’s UP and It’s STUCK🙏🏾
•🥳: Happy 21st To me ❤️ pic.twitter.com/XAHqgi0IIL
— De’Jahn “Nugget” Warren (@Ayoooo_daeee) August 24, 2020
“Nugget” chose to release his commitment on his birthday. The nation’s No. 1 junior college cornerback prospect chose his 21st birthday as a way to celebrate his commitment to UGA.
What has he made it through across all of those 21 years? His commitment day and birthday offers DawgNation another chance to share that special story.
De’Jahn Warren: They call him “Nugget”
Those that know him well call Warren many things: Loop. Dae. The Nugster.
In a lot of cases, the better a player is, the more nicknames he picks up. Warren has a lot of that in his story with one nickname that gets more time than all the others.
“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.
The genesis of the nickname goes back aways.
“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.”
That’s Nugget. Check out the definitive DawgNation story to learn about that nickname, including how he went from just five varsity games in high school to junior college walk-on to rated as the nation’s No. 2 overall JUCO prospect.
The Lackawanna Community College (Scranton, Pa.) sophomore hails from Maryland. He ranks as the nation’s No. 1 junior college cornerback and the No. 2 overall JUCO prospect on the 247Sports Composite ratings.
Warren becomes the 14th public commitment for Georgia in the 2021 class. That moves UGA up to No. 12 in the latest 247Sports Team Composite ratings for the 2021 cycle.
De’Jahn Warren: What the Bulldogs are getting
Warren recently named his top 3 for DawgNation. That small pool of finalists included both Maryland and Penn State. When he did, he shared that the process was beginning to weigh on him at it was affected his sleep schedule.
He was staying up all night thinking about what he was going to do.
This is a young man who has taken a long and winding road to get to his status as a UGA commit. The 21-year old Warren will not have a sophomore season of junior college football this fall because of the coronavirus.
It only adds to his enduring career timeline. 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)
- Fall of 2020: Will not have a junior college football season due to the global pandemic. The governing body for JUCO football has moved that sport to the spring of 2021.
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.
For Warren, he also had to get better in the classroom. The reality there is he had to begin to take his coursework seriously.
“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 had 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.
Ask Warren to recite all the twists and turns in his road to get to where he is today. He can.
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 his friends then and was humble enough to admit that. His inner circle was a reason for him to keep going.
“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 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.”
De’Jahn Warren: The walk-on who had five varsity games
There is a lot of material to cover in his career journey. When asked about it, he can cover 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 an 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 the 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.
That’s why the example set by current Georgia senior D.J. Daniel was so vital here. Daniel was once the nation’s No. 1 junior college cornerback prospect, too. He also had a tough road. But Daniel would up starting 11 games during his first season at Georgia in 2019.
Warren had been paying attention to that.
“Even though we are two different people it is kind of the same situation,” he said. “It is very similar actually. We both came from JUCO and once he went to Georgia he played in a lot of games. If I am going to go to Georgia, then I am going to earn a starting spot. That is going to be my whole plan there. If DJ can do it, then I can do it.”
“Nugget” also managed to form a very close personal relationship with Georgia freshman Major Burns. He said that Burns told him what life was all about in Athens.
It mattered a great deal here, too.
“I don’t know a lot of dudes from there,” he said about UGA this summer. “I know one. Maybe two. But the one player I do know [Major Burns] we are close. I know he is going to give me the real deal about Georgia in any way. That’s my ‘Dawg.”
— De’Jahn “Nugget” Warren (@Ayoooo_daeee) August 24, 2020
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