Sept. 25, 2003
By Autumn Wehr
Sports Information Student Assistant
Last year Brandon Warfieldıs season took a 360-degree turn when he went from redshirt to the conferenceıs second-leading rusher. You see, the junior college All-American was suppose to spend his first season at Utah as a redshirt, but that plan was quickly scratched after Utah starter Marty Johnson went down with a grueling knee injury in just the second game. In search of a replacement for Johnson, the NCAA's leading rusher through two games, the Utah coaching staff spent the next three games splitting handoffs between Warfield and fellow running back J.R. Peroulis.
In the end, it was Warfield who wrapped up the starting spot after a breakout performance against Air Force. Warfield punished the Falcon defense, rushing for 149 yards in the first half alone. He finished with 193 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the game. He earned his first start in the Utes' next contest versus San Diego State.
Warfield would spend the rest of the season proving he deserved the starting nod. He averaged 102.1 yards per game, highlighted by a season-best 194 yards against in-state rival Brigham Young, and 4.6 yards per carry. The 5-10, 210-pound player finished the year with 919 yards on 201 carries, to go along with a team-best nine touchdowns. The outstanding effort earned him second-team honors from both the league and the Las Vegas Review Journal. He was also named MWC Offensive Player of the Week twice.
This year Warfield has been named to the 2003 preseason all-conference team. Even with the preseason recognition, Warfield knows the return of Johnson and a new head coach meant proving himself all over again. The running back worked hard during spring practice and the off-season to prepare for his senior year and adapt to the new coaching staff. "I've come a long way from spring," proclaims Warfield.
It is a statement Utah offensive coordinator Mike Sanford couldn't agree with more. "Brandon has improved tremendously from spring, going faster and harder. He understands the offense better, and knows where to go and what to do," says Stanford.
After an injury to Johnson during the preseason camp, Warfieldıs stock shot up even more. "With Marty's injury, Brandon has gotten tons of reps, which has been really good for him. He was the offensive player of the game in two of our scrimmages," Sanford explains.
He improved on that accomplishment once the actual season began. Warfield rushed for 173 yards and a touchdown in Utahıs season-opening win over Utah State and was named MWC Co-Offensive Player of the Week.
Warfield repeated as co-player of the week the following week after rushing for 181 yards and 3 touchdowns in Utah's loss to Texas A&M. The season-best performance was in front of more than 20 family members and friends back in the running back's home state.
Sanford describes Warfield as an athlete with many qualities that attribute to his success on the field. "Brandon has really good vision and is extremely quick. He has a great feel on inside moves." Beside quickness and agility, Warfield possesses an enthusiastic attitude and a genuine love for football. Sanford continues, "Brandon is a pleasure to coach. He is an upbeat guy with a great personality and a great smile. He is very into football."
That type of personality is part of the reason Warfield has found great success on the football field. He was a standout athlete at Crockett High School (Texas), where he lettered in both football and basketball. After high school, Warfield decided to stay in Texas and play for Kilgore Junior College. It was his sophomore season when he began to punish opposing defenses. He helped lead the Rangers to a conference title, the 2001 Red River Bowl Championship and a No. 2 national juco ranking. Warfield was magnificent on the ground, recording 1,460 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also caught 32 passes for 500 yards that year. The near 2,000-yard year garnered the Texas native J.C. Gridwire second-team All-America and first-team conference honors.
Hungry for success at the next level, Warfield transferred to Utah. He describes D-I football as, "More up tempo than JC." He continues, "Everything, like the weight rooms and facilities are bigger and better here, and opponents are stronger and faster."
Warfield credits his family for supporting his football career through and through. "I lay for my family. They drive me," he explains. "I look at a picture of my seven-month old nephew TJ everyday before practice and it makes me play harder."
Warfield is just as quick to tell you that his hero in life is his mother, Carolyn Warfield. "I learned everything from her. She is a strong woman who raised four kids on her own. She taught me to make something out of nothing," says Warfield.
Now, in his senior season, Warfield is ready to push for more success. "I have a lot of confidence in this team and I'm just excited to play. It's my last year of college football and I want to make it the best."
With the starting job still up for grabs once Johnson returns, it looks like Warfield is doing his best to keep the coaches calling his number.