It may have been the most important coin flip college football recruiting's ever seen.
Or maybe the only coin flip college football recruiting's ever seen.
For Texas signee Chris Warren III, his college future came down to a game of chance Wednesday. The 4-star running back said he was so torn between choosing Texas or Washington on national signing day that he let fate decide.
"I decided to bring a coin, no joke," Warren told Bleacher Report. "It was a Mount Hood, Oregon, quarter, actually. [Tuesday night], I was really thinking Texas, but I woke up this morning thinking Washington. I didn't know what I was going to do."
During his signing day ceremony, Warren pulled out the quarter, flipped it and decided his college plans with what he saw on the coin.
"It landed heads" Warren said.
The question everyone wants to know: Why? Why let a coin decide the next four or five years of your life?
Warren said he got the idea from his mother. K'tara Lopez said she originally wanted her son to list the pros and cons with each school, weigh all options athletically and academically and go through any other necessary steps to make sure he ultimately made the right decision.
Warren did the research. He went on visits. He asked tons of questions to coaches. He did everything he was supposed to. And on Wednesday, he still had no definite answer.
Texas and Washington kept coming up even for Warren. So Lopez gave him the advice.
"I told him if everything was even when it was time to decide to flip the coin," Lopez said. "If it comes up with an answer you like, then you go with it, but if you find yourself saying, 'Best two out of three,' then you know that the other option is the one you truly want.
"At the end of day, if you're got two great programs and can't decide, you flip a coin."
The coin landed on heads, and heads for Warren meant Texas—and happy times for Charlie Strong and his coaching staff and anyone else who recruited the 6'2", 240-pound jumbo back.
Tails, however, meant the Longhorns would finish a frustrating second place in a recruiting race so close that a quarter literally decided the outcome.
Warren was asked multiple times if the quarter was a part of a clever act.
"It wasn't," he said. "If you know me, you know it wasn't a joke."
After the flip, Warren picked up a pen and signed a letter of intent with Texas. Just like that, and with the help of a fax machine, he was a Longhorn.
"It's not like there was a bad choice. Both schools are great," Warren said. "There's nothing negative about either place, and I could see myself at both schools.
"I felt comfortable about whether it landed heads or tails."
And thanks to the quarter landing heads, Texas gets a running back who can run with power and patience, then mix things up and run with agility and lateral movement. He's a downhill back who hits another gear when he finds a small opening. Warren had multiple 200-yard games as a running back for Rockwall High School in Rockwall, Texas.
Some may say Warren runs a lot like his father, who has the same first name and played 11 seasons in the NFL. The 6'2" Warren was a tall back who ran hard and delivered punishing hits in the process. He spent most of his pro years with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Longhorns are hoping to get a similar back in the younger Warren. During a press conference, Charlie Strong discussed Warren's chances for playing time as a freshman among the options already in the backfield:
The thing about Chris is that he is just a big, strong back. Last year, he would have a game of 200 yards, 300 yards. He didn't have to run over people, but he had enough speed and quickness to get outside and run around them. It's just so hard to say who is going to play right now, but he'll have a chance to come in and play.
Warren said he's looking to earn game time next season, but he's unsure of the role he'll play
"They plan on making me not necessarily a centerpiece but a large part of the offense," he said. "It all depends on how I compete in practice. If I compete as the best player, I'll play regardless of who's on the team."
Warren said he's excited about the next chapter in his football career. He added that he's most excited about having the recruiting process officially over. He talked about having his phone go dead after 45 minutes of being fully charged because of the calls he took.
It's all over now. Thanks to the help of a quarter.
Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst with Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. Player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' Composite ratings. Follow Damon on Twitter: @DamonSayles
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Upon further review, the sky isn't falling at Florida after all.
Head coach Jim McElwain guided the Gators to a strong late surge on national signing day, spearheading a rise in recruiting rankings that should restore a measure of faith in Gainesville.
When the sun rises on Thursday, the program's outlook should seem considerably better than it did at daybreak—or noon, for that matter—on Wednesday.
It was a rough morning for Florida, evolving to a stage where Auburn nearly warranted abuse charges.
Top-rated strong-side defensive end Byron Cowart placed a Tigers cap on his head shortly after 9 a.m. ET, though that letter of intent wouldn't reach head coach Gus Malzahn's hands until hours later. It was a decision that had Will Mushchamp's fingerprints all over it.
You may remember the Auburn defensive coordinator from his previous role as Florida's head coach.
Linebacker Jeffery Holland, wide receiver Ryan Davis and offensive tackle Mike Horton each followed suit, announcing their intentions to play for the Tigers. Top Florida targets were now headed to the SEC foe that spent its morning jabbing Gators fans in the gut.
Each commitment seemed to stir up a vision of Muschamp high-fiving his new colleagues and counting that $6.3 million buyout. Each sent Florida one step further toward a disastrous signing day.
Things changed dramatically during the hours that followed. Momentum, for the first time in too long, seemed to swing in the Gators' favor.
Florida secured four commitments in less than an hour, headlined by the 5-star tandem of Martez Ivey and CeCe Jefferson. Both standouts listed Auburn among finalists, but the plot twisted this time around.
Ivey, rated second overall nationally by 247Sports' composite rankings, is a plug-and-play talent at offensive tackle:
Jefferson is the No. 2 overall strong-side defensive end behind only Cowart, but don't try to tell him that.
"I do think I’m the best pass-rusher in the class," he told Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel. "That’s the first time I’ve ever said that. They’ve been comparing me and (Florida State signee) Josh Sweat and Byron (Cowart) and all those guys. I feel like I’m the best pass-rusher."
It's the kind of confidence folks have been craving at Florida. Jefferson is the sort of player who could help restore swagger in Gainesville:
Jefferson and Ivey provided McElwain with two of his team's top three targets. Cowart isn't coming to town, but the guys who are can make an instant difference.
"It don’t get much better than that," Jefferson told Thompson. "I feel like I’m the No. 1 defensive end and I know he’s the No. 1 offensive tackle. So us going head-to-head in practice, once game time comes it’s going to feel easy."
Florida also secured pledges from 4-star offensive skill players. Former Auburn running back commit D'Anfernee McGriff (Tallahassee) and wide receiver Antonio Callaway (Miami) opted to join the party, bolstering a Florida haul that added elite Sunshine State rusher Jordan Scarlett on Monday.
McElwain entered last weekend with the country's 66th-rated recruiting class in 247Sports' composite rankings. The Gators wrapped up signing day with a collection of prospects listed 21st overall.
That's a 45-spot improvement in five days.
Florida failed to find a quarterback despite attempts to flip Deondre Francois (Florida State) and Lamar Jackson (Louisville). However, the Gators signed a pair of passers last February and now hold plenty of ammo in the pursuit of a 2016 passer.
It wasn't a perfect signing day at Florida—Auburn and Muschamp made sure of that—but the outcome is better than most anticipated. In turn, the team's 2015 roster is more talented than most anticipated.
The Gators grabbed some much-needed mojo on Wednesday, and that's a start.
"The momentum that we gained has been fantastic," McElwain said during his press conference, per Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports. "I think that we answered some things from all kinds of corners of the state and that’s a good thing."
Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.
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