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Gallagher column: Carson's Warren opening eyes

Shaun Warren lives in a county where you can be a 1,000-yard rusher and practically no one notices.
That’s the way it is when a guy named K.P. Parks is running the football right up the road at West Rowan.
So Carson’s junior tailback, nicknamed “Bush” after his hero, Reggie Bush, decided to make his name during the summer.
It all started in Kannapolis when Warren, who became the Cougars’ first 1,000-yard rusher last season, attended a National Underclassmen camp.
Then, it was on to Atlanta.
But when he went to Wake Forest’s camp, eyes began popping out.
The 5-foot-7 flash ran a 4.3 40.
Suddenly, Wake coaches were interested. Keith Henry, a former Catawba All-American, certainly was.
“They told me if I could do well on special teams, I could do well there,” Warren said, envisioning himself as an ACC kick returner.
Soon after, his mother called Duke to inquire about its camp.
“My mom asked if it was too late for me to register,” Warren said. “She said my name and they were like, ‘Shaun Warren?’ They tried to get me to come up there.”
He did go down to a camp at Coastal Carolina. He went to Maryland for a three-day camp. The Terps were very impressed.
“They told me they’d come see me,” Warren said.
Then, the ultimate. Oklahoma invited him to one of the Underclassmen camps. He couldn’t make it, but he was flattered.
“It all feels pretty good,” he said of his summer. “I wasn’t expecting all that.”
The camps consisted of a 40 time, vertical leap, bar jump and one-on-one drills to test his footwork. Warren said he was never really intimidated by the other talent, much of which came from much bigger high schools and much bigger reputations than a fourth-year school tucked away in China Grove.
“After I went to Kannapolis and Wake and got used to the camps, I was one of the best ones,” Warren said.
The only downer came from North Carolina coaches, whom he said weren’t thrilled with his height.
“North Carolina told me I needed to get a little taller,” Warren said. “Everybody else was fine with it.”
Camps like these can make a good running back great. Warren’s a soft-spoken, humble kid, according to Carson coach Mark Woody, but his confidence is at an all-time high. He laughed when asked if he was going to get the opportunity to run the ball about 30 times a game.
“The coaches told me I’d get it more,” he smiled. “(The summer) makes me want to work harder and get my team pumped up more.”
Woody feels very lucky to have him.
“I can remember his first year,” Woody mused. “I said, ‘We’ve got to find a running back somewhere.’ And honest to goodness, he and his older brother came walking through the door. He was a good looking kid even then.”
Woody’s ready to let Warren run and run and run, hoping Carson’s win total increases from the three victories last year.
“Some games last year we lost by seven because of mistakes or turnovers,” Warren said. “I think we can get a lot more wins.”
The star in Mount Ulla is certainly impacting Warren.
“He’s a great athlete,” Warren said of Parks, a senior at West. “I try to compare myself to him a little bit. I talk to him every now and then and take some things from him.”
After this season, Warren may be taking something else from Parks: perhaps the title of Rowan County’s best running back.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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