Three-star cornerback De’Jahn Warren — the No. 2 overall junior college prospect in the 2021 class — was set to visit Maryland football on March 13, but that visit was cancelled just one day prior due to recruiting restrictions that enacted a dead period across the country. Trips to Georgia on March 21 and to Tennessee on April 10-11 were also cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With classes at Lackawanna College set to be completed online for the rest of spring semester, Warren’s had time to sift through his offers and relationships, culminating in the surprise release of a top-11 list Saturday evening — which put the Terps against some of the largest programs in the nation.
“What made me put out the list, for one, I’ve been trying to narrow down my schools because I sign in December, but the coronavirus is kind of making me have to speed up my decision,” Warren told Testudo Times. “I’ve spent majority of my break talking to coaches and things like that to try and narrow down some places I want to go to, and the places that recruit me heavy as well. I want to go somewhere that makes me feel wanted.”
Maryland football was listed alongside Alabama, Georgia, Nebraska, Penn State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas A&M and West Virginia in a surprise video dropped by Warren at 4:44 p.m. — which holds a special meaning.
“It was my dad’s jersey number,” Warren — who also dons No. 4 on the field — said. “He actually wore No. 4 in high school when he played for Roosevelt. So me seeing that picture as I was getting older throughout my grandmother[‘s] house, it always made me want the jersey number because we kind of look alike. So I just took it and ran with it.”
The road to this top-11 was a long one for the Maryland native, as his football journey involved stops at Suitland High School and The Avalon School before landing at Lackawanna for two seasons of JUCO football.
In his first season with the Falcons, Warren tallied 35 tackles (34 solo), five interceptions, five blocked kicks and three forced fumbles as he transitioned to cornerback from the safety position he played throughout most of high school.
“Honestly [the recruiting attention] shocked me,” Warren said. “Because this was my first year playing corner, so I tried to give it my all and do my best to leave it out on the field. It shocked me, but then again this is something I’ve been waiting for.”
Warren noted that Suitland defensive coordinator Ian Hale helped initiate the position change at the high school level, and extra coaching from former Maryland defensive back Jeremiah Johnson helped him grow before the next level.
“The first thing I learned was that college and high school are two different levels,” Warren said. “You’ve got to actually play with more intensity in college. I learned a lot of self-discipline because coming from safety to corner you have a different type of vision — your eyes gotta be different.
“So I learned discipline, I learned about my feet, my footwork, and also they taught me a slew of techniques, so you can also say I’m becoming more of a technician. I like that about myself.”
After a breakout season his freshman year, Warren picked up his first offer from Tennessee on Dec. 20, 2019. Only a few week later, Maryland head coach Mike Locksley reached out to Lackawanna head coach Mark Duda to extend an offer.
Since the offer Warren says Locksley, as well as newly-promoted assistant Brawley Evans and defensive coordinator Jon Hoke, have been in constant contact — but in a way that differs than some other staffs.
“The conversations have been all over the place,” Warren said. “It’s real cool though. I can talk to coach Locks about anything, so the conversations go way beyond football. I’ve got a nice relationship with the rest of the coaching staff too, so we all just talk about everything.”
“‘How am I doing back home? How am I dealing with the corona? Am I still working out?’ And we talk about sports here and there, but the conversation can be all over the place — it doesn’t have to be about sports.”
In the meantime, Warren continues to work out — as COVID-19 won’t stop him from going outside and training — and prepare for his second season of college football, while also studying the schools vying for his attention as he waits to make a decision.
As he narrows down his decision even further, Warren says distance does not play a huge factor, and he plans to do whatever it takes to get on the field so the depth chart also has less of an impact.
There is no set plan for Warren to commit to a school, as he says he likes to surprise people. Warren does, however, plan to sign in December and will have three seasons to use two years of eligibility.