When Jacob Warren first arrived at UT in 2018, Tennessee Football was coming off its worst season in its history of SEC play and entering a new era with Jeremy Pruitt at the helm. Funny enough, that wouldn’t even be the lowest point of the program while he was there.
Less than three years later, Pruitt was fired after several NCAA violations, the Vols were coming off a 3-7 campaign, and they suffered a wave of transfers. It seemed as if Warren wouldn’t be able to come close to seeing the program restored to its glory.
“You lose a lot of guys when something like that happens,” he said of the transition from Pruitt to Josh Heupel. “Not necessarily that you want to, but people that aren’t bought in to what we’ve got going on, they made a decision to move on and go other places.
Warren actually committed to Butch Jones. Pruitt then signed Dominick Wood-Anderson when he arrived. A year later, he signed two higher-rated tight ends, Jackson Lowe and Sean Brown.
Two years later, he again signed two higher-rated tight ends, Miles Campbell and Trinity Bell. Heupel inherited them. Lowe, Campbell, Brown and Bell have all transferred, as did so many other players in that era.
“(I’m) truly happy for them and wish them the best,” Warren said of everybody who transferred. “A lot of them have had success at other places, but the people that stayed are truly committed to this thing, and you can tell for sure.”
Now, as Warren gets set to begin his final season, he’s the starting tight end for a top 10 program. After he and Princeton Fant split reps the last two years, he’s the clear-cut No. 1 player at the position this year.
Throughout his journey to this point, Warren himself is a different player, particularly size wise. In 2018, he was listed as 6’6″ 224 pounds. Now, he’s listed at 253 pounds. He said he wishes he could see him stand next to his freshman self in a mirror.
“It is pretty crazy just to think about the transformation that I’ve made, and obviously there’s still a long way to go, just in the way your body looks, how strong you are, how muscular you are, all these things that are important to any young man,” he said. “You want to look good. You want to look big and strong, but just the growth I’ve had over the past few years, it’s been pretty crazy, and I think that there’s people I see that I haven’t seen in quite a while, maybe from high school or old coaches or whatever it may be, and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh! You’re a totally different dude!'”
“I was definitely very talented in my own regard whenever I was a skinny guy, but I’m definitely happy to be where I’m at right now,” he said.