The 50 most important college players in Texas in 2017 — No. 39: Texas’ Chris Warren
AS THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON EDGES CLOSER, WE TAKE A LOOK AT THE MOST PIVOTAL PLAYERS FOR EACH PROGRAM'S RESPECTIVE SUCCESS.
The importance of a player is not always defined by their skill level. The most important player on a team or in a unit is not always the best player on a team. This list is designed to breakdown the 50 most important players in Texas college football for the 2017 season. It is not a ranking of the 50 best college football players in the state. Importance can be defined by position, need, skill or leadership. We’ll count down the list through the summer, all the way to No. 1.
50 – Lamar DE Daniel Crosley / 49 – TCU WR KaVontae Turpin / 48 – UTEP QB Ryan Metz
47 – UMHB RB Markeith Miller / 46 – Sam Houston State DE PJ Hall / 45 – Baylor WR Blake Lynch
44 – Texas Tech WR Jonathan Giles (transferred) / 43 – Texas Tech RB Justin Stockton
42 – PVAMU WR Joshua Simmons / 41 – Rice RB Samuel Stewart / 40 – UNT WR Jalen Guyton
Texas has always had capable weapons in the backfield, but Chris Warren III seemed primed for a huge career with the Longhorns after shattering the record books as a freshman back in 2015. On a rainy night in Austin, Warren ran through the Texas Tech defense and made it look easy as he set the team’s freshman single game rushing record with 276 yards and four touchdowns near the end of the 2015 season.
Warren put up strong numbers in the first four games of 2016 as a sophomore, rushing for 366 yards and three touchdowns before going down with a season ending injury. Warren had 106 yards on just 10 carries against Oklahoma State when he suffered the knee injury that kept him off the field for the rest of the year.
Coming out of Rockwall High School, Warren was a monster in the backfield. He finished as a four-star recruit, rushed for 2,329 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior and played in the Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio. His commitment to the Longhorns was a close call for then-head coach Charlie Strong, as Warren flipped a coin on National Signing Day to decide his future between Texas and Washington.
There is no doubt that when he’s healthy, Chris Warren is one of the most powerful backs in the country. He has the ability to be the workhorse running back that first-year head coach Tom Herman will be looking for, as he has shown to be capable of carrying the ball 20-to-25 times a game. He has both the size and breakaway speed needed to be a big-time player in the backfield, and should finally get his chance to be the guy in Austin after having almost a full year to recover from last season’s injury.
D’Onta Foreman averaged almost 30 carries per game and racked up 2,028 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground last season. Those are some big shoes to fill, but Warren is the odds-on favorite to see the majority of the carries this season for Herman. The Longhorns have other running backs in the backfield who could see time – namely freshman Toneil Carter and sophomore Kyle Porter – but Warren will need to bounce back from last season’s injury and return to form if the Longhorns hope to replicate last season’s success in the running game.
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Brady Keane is a Contributing Writer for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. Follow him on Twitter: @BradyKeane.