Vols’ Jacob Warren’s veteran experience, crucial for tight end unit

With Tennessee losing a lot of top talent to the draft, Warren’s return provides much needed experience for the unit.
Big Orange Kickoff
Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 5:31 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee football lost a lot of its top talent from last season to the NFL Draft and graduation, like Hendon Hooker, Jalin Hyatt, and Princeton Fant.

However, the team will see the return of a key veteran in Jacob Warren. His decision stems from the hopes of achieving his dreams of reaching the pros.

“I think this is like the most excited I’ve been for a football season my whole life,” said Warren. “So I’m just looking forward to keeping getting better, you can’t really look too far forward. We got to do the rest of spring, we got the summer, we’re really just got our eyes set on going and winning.”

A season ago Warren and Fant formed one of the best tight-end tandems in the country. In 2023, the sixth-year senior is primed to resume the starting role as the long-standing veteran in his position group. A chance to bolster a resume that could catch the attention of NFL teams.

Warren described his outlook on the season, “I think the opportunity to put myself in a position where I want to be in, regarding the next level right, the NFL, and making a career out of this game. But at the same time just looking back at last season and seeing how much fun we had and how successful we were made it kind of an easy decision to come back.”

Whether he starts or comes off the bench, has never been the sole priority for the Farragut product.

“I just want our tight-end group to be successful because I know if that’s the case, then that means I’m going to be successful in turn, right? So I think just going out there doing everything I can while also helping my guys do everything they can be the key this year,” said Warren.

Warren also adds a unique wrinkle to his position group, as he’s the lone veteran player in a room full of fresh faces.

“Yeah, I think that just my presence in that room, just gives the guys somebody to look at right, somebody to watch,” said Warren. “Also, just in the classroom right, like watching film, being a guy that can kind of give some, give the young guys some insight as to how to run a route and you know, whenever we’re doing this block, your feet should be this way or whatever. And there’s obviously a lot of things that coach Abe handles and he’s more than capable of handling, but I think she appreciates having somebody that’s, you know, played a lot of snaps in this league and for this team.”

Warren is also a part of the leadership council, which explains why tight end’s coach Alec Abelin said Warren is basically like one of the coaches.

Warren exclaimed, “Oh, it’s great. And I love it. I think that’s a lot of pride. And like I said, played a lot of ball. So I’ve seen a lot of things, I’ve experienced things. That opportunity has kind of allowed me to come out of my shell a little bit and just being more vocal, not even just football, but just you know, my day-to-day life and be confident in myself and my ability and my knowledge and just kind of has changed the way that I’ve carried myself for sure.”

But, that’s not the only thing that gets Warren excited for this upcoming season. He’s also eager, like many Vol Fans, to see Joe Milton continue to develop in this system.

“A lot of people respect Joe, but it’s not just because he’s six foot five and a half, you know, 230 pounds, and can throw the ball 75 yards. They respect him because he shows up every day and he works really hard. He treats his guys really well but also demands that everybody, you know, reaches the standard that we have set. So just seeing that level of leadership from him has been amazing. And also just his raw talent is unmatched. I’ve said before, truly Joe Heisman. That’s what I call him, Joe Milton for Heisman. I truly believe that and I’m just excited to see what he can do,” said Warren.

Now, if the Vols are as dedicated to the process as they were a season ago, then Warren’s expectations may not be as crazy as it sounds in April.