by Brian Lamar, U.S. Navy Public Affairs
For many student athletes who follow their football playing abilities as far down the path as their talents will allow them, the road often ends well before the player wants, expects or is ready.
For J’Arius Warren, a Long Beach Mississippi native who excelled in highschool ball and was picked up by the Naval Academy as a defensive end, he is prepared for wherever that path takes him.
As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and for a defensive end trying to predict the future, every play of every game just before the snap, Warren sets his fortune-telling efforts on max in between games.
“My advice to anyone hoping to play ball is that school is a huge part. I went to the prep school for the Naval Academy in Rhode Island. It took that year to figure out how serious school was. You have to keep grinding day in and day out. As far as football goes, and life in general, your spot is never guaranteed. You can lose your spot at any given day due to your lack of attitude or your performance. Academics are just as important as athletics. You have to give 100 percent in both,” said Warren.
Warren’s attitude regarding his future may be less of a practice of some sort of mystical power, but instead more of a practical attitude as he finishes up his junior year.
“My plan for senior season is to keep going strong in football and put up the best numbers I can, and we will see where football takes us after that. I will see if I can continue on the path of football. If my football career is over, I have my Navy career, which is just as good in my opinion,” said Warren. “I want to finish strong academically.”
Warren has two hopes in his Navy career. He would be happy with either Marine ground infantry or Navy surface warfare, which are considered two mentally and physically tough jobs. Warren feels that the Naval Academy’s unique program style has prepared him for anything.
“Our program’s identity is built on toughness and we hit more in spring time than anyone else in the country. The philosophy is that you aren’t always going to be bigger, stronger or faster, so toughness is a big part of the game,” said Warren.
Warren also reflected on how the Navy football program has given him a family that he will cherish forever.
“We are a unique program in college football. It is a program that is built on love for one another. We have a program called “The brotherhood”. You aren’t going to go through anything alone. We play for one another. We don’t play for ourselves. Some of my teammates are going to be godparents to my kids and in my wedding,” said Warren.
Warren also thinks back on his experiences in Long Beach with humbleness and gratefulness. According to him, he had a lot of help on his way to playing Navy ball.
According to Warren, this was the foundation to everything he has accomplished so far.
“High school is very different. You come from being the big fish in a small pond to the next level where everyone is on equal footing or better than you. My biggest mentor growing up was our head coach, Forrest Williams, Bob Reeves and Jed Mooney, our linebacker coach, who was the hardest coach I ever had. He demanded excellence. He was going to get the best out of you anyway possible. They mentored me in the best way possible and I have the utmost respect for them always,” said Warren.
As this season comes to a close, Warren reflects on how the events of 2020 and COVID-19 affected the year.
“It was different with the coronavirus. It was a crazy year for us. We didn’t know if there was going to be a season but we were working toward the season anyway. We prepared for any scenario. Our program started us off with no live contact to keep us safe. Since we are such a physical team, the no contact did take a toll on readiness,” Warren said. “This year showed us some strengths and weaknesses individually and as a team that we can build on for next year,” he explained.
According to Warren, even with all the adversity faced, he was glad to participate in the Army versus Navy game in which history was made.
“My most memorable moment of the year was the Army-Navy game. We played at West Point for the first time since the 1930s. It was a unique experience that I will never forget,” said Warren.