By Otis Kirk
Sophomore De’Vion Warren played Saturday for the first time since Week 2 and made an impact at both wide receiver and kick returner.
Warren caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Ty Storey in the fourth quarter and also had a 78-yard kickoff return. On Tuesday following practice, Warren talked about what it was like to be back playing.
“Yes, it’s always good to be back and healthy with the team,” Warren said. “It’s a team sport so being apart from your brothers it’s kinda heartbreaking to have to watch the game from home and not be on the sideline.”
Warren had fair caught all the kickoffs that weren’t touchbacks until the long return. Was it frustrating to fair catch those?
“Sometimes it does, but I have to understand Alabama kicks you high and put a lot of air under the ball,” Warren said. “We’ve got to be smart about it and make sure the offense has great field position when they get on the field.”
But you got you one good return.
“Yeah I got one pretty good return,” Warren said. “We blocked it well and Coach said, ‘We’ve got nothing to lose, come on let’s get some motivation and return one.’ They kicked it and we blocked it good as a team. It was good to be able to make an impact like that in the game even late like it was.”
Which coach told you that?
“Coach (Chad) Morris and Coach (Barry) Lunney the people over our special teams said let’s get us one,” Warren said. “Let’s get us one. Come on.”
How did it feel to break that one against Alabama?
“It felt good not because it’s Alabama, but just because I haven’t returned one in awhile,” Warren said. “It felt real good to make an impact like that.”
Can you describe what happened on the return?
“As a returner you have to have good vision,” Warren said. “You just have to trust, pray and hope that your blockers can make you hole this time and this time the blockers made a great hole. Being the person I am I just saw the hole and I just ran.”
You have had your two biggest returns against Auburn and Alabama. Does it feel extra special because it was against two of the better teams?
“Yes it is it just shows what kind of competitor I am,” Warren said. “It just shows I’m always ready to make an impact no matter who the team is. If it’s the No. 1 or No. 2 team or a team not ranked. Just being ready to make an impact anyway I can.”
You obviously have made plays in the kicking game before but that was your first touchdown catch wasn’t it?
“Yes, first touchdown catch,” Warren said. “It felt good. It felt real good. It felt better to celebrate with my teammates. In the receiver group Coach (Justin) Stepp always emphasizes if someone else scores you have to meet them. That was what they did after I scored.”
Can you break down what happened on that touchdown pass. Were you the first or second option?
“I think I’m the second option,” Warren said. “The tight end is the first option. But at the film looking how they drop down. Coach always told me if they drop down go ahead and break it up. Just studying film and doing it multiple times in practice I learned that if he drops down I’m going to up it. Ty threw a pretty ball I just had to make the catch.”
How has Storey evolved at quarterback in recent games?
“Ty has been great, man – Ty and Cole (Kelley), actually,” Warren said. “Cole has been motivating him, and Ty has been great. He’s been progressing. Actually not just only Ty, the whole offense and defense have been progressing week after week after week. We are continually getting together and bonding in brotherhood, and that’s great great. He’s been doing great, we’ve been doing great – the O-line. Everybody has been doing great and having his back.”
The offense scored the most points Alabama has given up this season (31) and most total offense (405 yards). How confident is the offense now?
“The offense is real confident, now,” Warren said. “Not just because we scored, it’s the fact that we’re coming together and everything seems to be setting in. We’ve been rocky at the beginning of the season, but now that doesn’t matter. Honestly, it’s games. As an offense, we’re happy. We all just keep getting better and better every practice and every week.”
Arkansas faces Ole Miss on Saturday night in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium. Do you have any family coming up since Little Rock is closer to Monroe?
“My family always comes to each game,” Warren said. “I have family that actually lives in Little Rock and they’re coming up. It’s good to actually have family come see you play no matter where you are at.”
Which family lives in Little Rock?
“I have cousin who lives in Little Rock,” Warren said.