Just because you go home, doesn’t mean you’ll find family.
Darion Green-Warren has learned that in the recruiting process. The cornerback at Santa Ana Mater Dei High grew up in Edmond, Okla., just outside Norman, and committed to Oklahoma last July.
“Now I get to play in front of my hometown … at my dream school,” Green-Warren said in a commitment video.
One of the things that elicited his commitment -- a great relationship with defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks -- later became a reason for Green-Warren to back away from his decision. Oklahoma’s defense struggled mightily in 2018, giving up 33.3 points per game and the most passing yards in the nation. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was fired in October and Cooks left in January a week after Alex Grinch was hired to fill Stoops’ position.
Green-Warren looked forward to meeting the new staff, but never had the same connection as he had with Cooks and the previous defensive staff. Green-Warren decommitted from Oklahoma two months after Grinch was hired.
“I didn’t have like a great relationship with them and they were offering a lot of kids,” said Green-Warren, who is finishing up his junior year at Mater Dei. “You want to go where you’re wanted and needed. It didn’t feel that way anymore at Oklahoma.
“I wanted to get back out and see what other schools have to offer because I had committed pretty early,” he said. “So I was like, let me just open up my recruitment and see what’s the best fit for me. It could still be Oklahoma. It could not be.”
Green-Warren feels he learned a lot about the recruiting process while making his earlier decision. He’s focusing on the atmosphere around the football program the second time through the process.
“I just want to go to a family, like a coaching staff that’s a family,” he said. “They look out for you; you look out for them. A good coaching staff that is stable and has that family, that home welcome. I want a coach that is going to teach me, but at the same time be a cool guy to talk to and be able to come to. That’s what I'm looking for.”
He’s using his previous experience and combining that with new visits and conversations to guide his choice, which he plans to announce at the Under Armour All-America game in Orlando, Fla., in January.
The coaching staff is going to play a big role in Green-Warren’s decision. He is searching for a staff that is going to push him to get to the professional level. The 6-foot, 187-pound defensive back is studying coaches’ track records for developing players into NFL talent and looking at the team depth charts, seeing if he’ll have an opportunity to compete for early playing time.
“I don’t shy away from competition, but I just don’t want to go into a spot where there’s already three corners signed or committed there and they have them a little higher on the board,” Green-Warren said. “I’ll come in and compete against anybody, but I just want to go where they want me the most.”
Green-Warren, a four-star prospect ranked in the top 150 in the 247Sports composite, has taken unofficial visits to Georgia and Clemson this spring and stopped by USC’s campus multiple times. He wants to travel to Florida State and Michigan this offseason as well and listed Penn State and Oregon as other schools that he has been talking with frequently.
USC was the runner-up when Green-Warren initially chose Oklahoma. The Trojans made a good impression when he stopped by for a spring practice earlier this month.
“They’re rebuilding,” Green-Warren said. “I went to a practice, and it seems like they’re competing every day and I like that. I want to compete and I want … a chance to go to the playoff, that national stage.”
Oregon continued its strong recruiting in Southern California. The Ducks picked up commitments from Norco running back Jaydn Ott, who is a freshman, and rising junior defensive back Anthony Beavers Jr. of Harbor City Narbonne.