Dave Hooker audio:
When Tennessee offensive coordinator Dave Clawson heard news of the NCAA’s ruling Tuesday morning making Brandon Warren eligible, his reaction more closely resembled a sigh than a shout.
“We were hoping for this ruling for a while,” Clawson said Tuesday morning on the News Sentinel’s radio show, The Sports Page. “We certainly were planning as if we would have it. So it’s almost more relief than jubilation. We thought that this would happen because it’s the right thing to do, and the NCAA acted accordingly.”
Clawson is as excited as anyone the former Florida State freshman All-American tight end will be able to play this fall. And Warren’s immediate eligibility means UT’s offensive gameplan for the season opener at UCLA is a little less complicated.
“We were going to have to get a much bigger gameplan ready, have one that if we have Brandon Warren and have one if we don’t have Brandon Warren,” Clawson said. “We probably would have to spend more time on the not having Brandon Warren one because we might not even have him for the game (before Tuesday's ruling). You’ve still got to get that stuff ready.
“Again anybody can get hurt in the first quarter of a game. Now you’re hoping that doesn’t happen and hopefully the odds are that it won’t happen. Now we can spend a lot more time on the packages that involve Brandon and less on the ones that don’t, but we’ll still work that stuff because again that’s football.”
Warren, the 2005 Class 2A Mr. Football at Alcoa High School, adds another dimension to Tennessee’s offense with his versatility.
“He gives you the ability to do a lot of different things,” tight ends coach Jason Michael said on The Sports Page. “He’s a tight end that can play as an extended receiver that can do stuff from in line as a stereotype tight end. You can move him around and do some things from the backfield. Just the versatility and the things that you can do with him is what makes us excited about having that element offensively.”
For Tennessee’s coaches, hope finally turned into excitement on Tuesday.
Clawson was hopeful from the outset that Warren, who left Florida State in 2006 to be close to his ailing mother, would be eligible this fall.
“I think from the very get-go we felt that this would happen because of the circumstances and the situation. I’ve been involved in some appeals before,” Clawson said. “Whenever it’s common sense and it seems like the right thing to do, it usually happens. I know a lot of people are skeptical of that with the NCAA, but my dealings with this stuff… This was pretty clear cut that this was the right thing to do regarding his circumstances, and I believed that we’d have him.”
The Vols now know they’ll have Warren this fall. And as the season progresses, so will Warren’s role in the offense.
“He’s one of those guys that does a lot of things well,” Clawson said. “I think he presents a lot of problems because he’s a big, physical guy who can also run. Part of it, too, is that he’s only been running this offense for a little more than two weeks now. I think we’re just scratching the surface with the things that he can do. We want to make sure we put him in positions that he knows what he’s doing so he can play fast.”
More details as they develop online and in Wednesday's News Sentinel.