FAYETTEVILLE — Senior wide receiver De’Vion Warren is having a dream senior season showing off the talent Arkansas envisioned when it signed him out of Monroe (La.) Ouachita Parish High School.
In three games, Warren has caught 10 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He has returned a kickoff for 10 yards. That compares to the first three years when Warren caught eight pases for 38 yards and a touchdown. He has averaged 25.3 yards on 59 kickoff returns including one for a touchdown.
The obvious question is what have you done differently?
“I really have just taken the time to study myself and study up on it and make sure I play fast and use what God has given me, which is speed,” Warren said. “But I also have to make sure I use great technique and study our opponent to make sure I know what they’re going to do or have an idea of what they’re going to do.”
Warren admitted at times the first three years produced some difficult times.
“Yeah, I got frustrated,” Warren said. “I got frustrated at times. But really, I just really trusted God throughout this whole process and really just continued to work. That’s all I knew how to do. Just continue to work and move on. I did not think about leaving at all. I thought about just, ‘Hey, I can prove them that I belong in this league, and so far I’m still just trying to improve myself.”
Warren credits his parents for shaping him up as the person and player he is today.
“My parents had a big influence,” Warren said. “They put me in football when I was like six, and ever since then I have loved it. Even when times would get bad, and I would lose and things weren’t going my way, they always said, ‘See a light at the end of the tunnel.’ My family are big believers in religion, so they make sure that I always keep God first, and I pray and talk to him and let God handle any problems that I have. And motivation, once I stop loving football that’s when I’m truly done, but so far I’ve loved the last four years I’ve been here no matter what.”
Warren said the team has moved past the blown call at the end of the Auburn game and are focusing on Ole Miss.
“We’ve put it past us, so we’re just really focused on Ole Miss this week,” Warren said Tuesday. “We know we just have to, as an offense, come out fast. We can’t put our defense in a bad predicament like that, 17-0. We have to come out fast to be able to help our defense. Really, we’ve got to focus on coming out fast, making sure we start hard. As Coach (Sam) Pittman said, we’ve got to come out and start. We can’t just sit back and relax. We’ve got to come out hard and hit the first punch.”
The Hogs did get down to Auburn 17-0 on the road this past Saturday. They fought back and actually led 28-27 late in the fourth quarter. In the past facing that kind of deficit on the road against a ranked team the Hogs might have folded, but not this year.
“Yes it is,” Warren said. “We know that all our coaches are going to have our backs no matter what. So when you know that and understand that, you go out there and fight no matter what. So Coach Pitt came in and told us he wants us here, he wants us to be able to play for him and play for everybody in that room. Really we play for our teammates. We play for our coaches and our teammates. And so that brotherhood, everybody to my left and right on the field, that’s who I go out there and play for. That being said, you don’t want to let them down. So you go out there and play your hardest no matter what the score is.
Arkansas ended a 20-game losing streak in the SEC when they beat Mississippi State in Week 2. Now they try to snap a home SEC losing streak that goes back to the 2016 season when they beat Florida 31-10 on Nov. 5.
“It’s important, but it’s not only important to win home games,” Warren said. “We go out there every game, and we’re trying to win every game. This game being a home game makes it even better if we win, and we need to win. Playing at home, it’s always good to protect your house, always good to have your fans something to cheer on. So, we are going out there every week and striving to win. Even this week, home game, we’ll go out there striving to win, no matter home or away.”
Warren has teamed up with roommate Mike Woods at wide receiver this season to give the offense a big lift.
“Yeah, me and Mike are roommates,” Warren said. “That’s my boy. He’s like my brother. We challenged ourselves to be the best on the field. Those contested catches, we think of it as our ball all the time. When the ball’s in the air, we’ve got to make sure that it’s our ball no matter the circumstance, no matter what it does. And when you hold yourself to that type of standard, it makes you more confident that when people are around you you’ve got to catch the ball, so that’s what we’ve worked on, make sure everybody in our group has the ability to go make those contested catches.”
The Razorbacks and Ole Miss will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. It’s homecoming and will be televised on the SEC Network.