Warren to start at fullback for Cats

Former Alcoa Tornado Darrell Warren hurdles the line during the win over Christian Academy of Knoxville last year.

Photo by Jenifer Clark

Former Alcoa Tornado Darrell Warren hurdles the line during the win over Christian Academy of Knoxville last year.

Darrell Warren makes three.

The University of Kentucky freshman and former Alcoa High School star was informed earlier this week he’ll start at fullback when the Wildcats open the season against Western Kentucky on Thursday night at L.P. Field in Nashville.

Kickoff is 9:15 p.m.

ESPNU will have the broadcast.

Warren makes the third former Tornado in as many years to start in his freshman season for the Wildcats, following quarterback Randall Cobb and tight end Tyler Robinson, who got his first college start and caught his first collegiate touchdown pass when Kentucky visited Tennessee last fall. Cobb (2007), Robinson (2008) and Warren (2010) were each Mr. Football winners as Tornadoes.

Warren played tailback at Alcoa, moving to fullback when he arrived in Lexington this summer. He said he first learned the news he would start against the Hilltoppers from teammates. Once it became official, the feeling was more one of his hard work paying off than one of surprise, he said.

“I feel pretty good about it,” Warren said. “My main thing was just trying to get better and learning the playbook. I’m adjusting right now and trying to get better at my position.”

Many projected the 6-foot, 230-pound Warren, who will wear jersey No. 39 for the Cats, as a rush defensive at the college level. Alcoa coach Gary Rankin said nothing he heard from the Kentucky coaching staff during Warren’s recruiting indicated an offensive role had been ruled out.

“I always thought he could be a running back,” Rankin said. “Everybody always talked about him as a defensive player, but I always thought he could play running back.

“We’ve sent three of them up there now, and all three of them have started as freshman. That’s a big honor.”

Warren, the 2011 Blount Today Male Athlete of the Year, rushed for 1,258 yards and 36 touchdowns in helping Alcoa to a record seventh consecutive state championship last season. The All-State standout ran for four touchdowns in last season’s Class 3A championship game in being named the BlueCross Bowl Offensive Most Valuable Player.

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