Former Gator Warren speaks out on camp, pro career
Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 10:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 10:38 p.m.
LAKE BUTLER — It wasn't hard to find former Union County star Gerard Warren working with a handful of youngsters during Friday afternoon's youth football camp.
The 6-foot-4, 325-pound defensive lineman for the New England Patriots was back at his old high school along with fellow former Union County star running back C.J. Spiller, now of the Buffalo Bills. The duo hosted their second annual youth camp, in which more than 200 children from the area attended.
Warren, an 11-year NFL veteran, said that he was working the campers pretty hard in some agility drills and some individual technique drills. While he said it was fun watching the kids enjoy themselves, he added that he also liked the fact that a few of them asked him questions.
Warren helped lead Union County to three consecutive Class 3A state championships (1994-96) before suiting up for Florida and becoming the third player selected in the 2001 NFL draft. He is a pretty good source of knowledge, since he has been durable throughout the grinds of more than 10 NFL seasons.
“Pretty fortunate, but I attribute a lot of that to just being blessed and protected, but also to what was built and instilled in me here at Union County,” Warren said. “We harp on building mental and physical toughness.
“Where it's something that a guy might miss a game for, I might not miss a game for.”
During his career, which also includes stints with the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders, Warren has played in 163 games with 137 starts. He has posted 467 tackles, 36.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.
“I have had a few nice injuries. It's just the fact to having the mental (toughness) to block it out and the pain tolerance to go out there and go,” Warren said. “From high ankle sprains, torn cartilage, fingers, hyper extended elbows, separated shoulders, there has been injuries but it's about the mental toughness and being able to be reliable and counted upon.”
Last season, Warren saw action in 12 games, finishing with 16 tackles. He also played in all three postseason games for New England, including Super Bowl XLVI.
According to the Patriots website, Warren is currently listed third on the depth chart at one of the defensive tackle positions. While there is no guarantee as to how long Warren's career will last, he is looking forward to training camp and a 12th year in the league.
“As many years as possible, it is a blessing to be in the NFL for 11 years,” Warren said. “As long as I can go, as long as a coach and a team or an organization can see me being productive and helping their organization, then I am willing to go out and put in the work and the effort and to come out and play.”
In terms of what New England's plans are for the sturdy lineman, Warren said he is just going to enter training camp ready to work.
Regardless of what may happen in the future, it was also easy to tell that Warren enjoys being home and back on the fields at the high school, where he earned the nickname “Big Money” as a freshman.
The plans are also in place for Warren and Spiller to continue to host the youth football camp. In the future, Warren could possibly contribute and give back to his high school and community in other ways.
“Most definitely, I would love to coach and contribute. I don't want to be the head coach. I want to be a person who comes back and contributes,” Warren said. “Any wise man would broaden his horizons, but I know my calling in life was football and it is football and it forever will be football, but if proper business and things presented itself, you have to take a step.”