Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei is almost 2,400 miles away from Gainesville, Florida. However, for Mater Dei cornerback Darion Green-Warren, no distance is too far to be developed by the right staff.
Green-Warren unofficially visited Florida this past weekend, being in the Sunshine State (Orlando) for Pylon7v7. The top 10 corner in the 2020 class is currently committed to Oklahoma and has been since July. However, he told Inside the Gators that his pledge is not necessarily rock solid due to the Sooners’ defensive back coach, as well as Green-Warren’s primary recruiter, no longer being in Norman.
“After Coach [Kerry] Cooks left, my decision is kind of up in the air,” he said. “But when I came to Florida, it really changed my opinion a lot. But I’m going to come back to visit in the Spring to determine whether or not they’re really in it for me.”
After all, the four-star prospect barely got a real taste of what it means to be a Gator.
“I had a fun time meeting the players. The coaches weren’t really there so I didn’t get to meet a lot of them, but I still had a great experience.”
Apparently for Green-Warren, though, the short but positive time in the Swamp was enough. Because, as he told ITG, the culture change that has swept the Gators since the Mullen hire is something that cannot be ignored.
“The program is turning around,” he noted. “They want big time players and they’re getting big time players. They want to bring everyone up and take us to the playoff. It’s a cool thing to see.”
Green-Warren’s high school, Mater Dei, regularly takes the top spot for football programs in California. However, the Monarchs’ biggest rivals are the St. John Bosco Braves, with the Braves winning the 2018 match-up. Two top programs in the country’s biggest state are bound to have some overlap in player relations, and Green-Warren said he’s pretty familiar with a certain Bosco alum.
“I talk to Chris [Steele] a lot. He’s one of my good friends,” Green-Warren mentioned. “He’s always telling me that Florida is bringing in some big names and how good it is to play at a real defensive back university. He told me that signing with Florida is actually one of the best decisions he’s ever made.”
The Steele endorsement has got to count for something, as both Golden State natives played each other frequently at the highest level in high school football. But besides that, Green-Warren knows what he wants from a program.
“A defensive backs coach with a great resume and a lot of success putting guys in the league,” is what the 6-foot, 176-pounder is looking for the most. However, he also tells ITG that he will pick the program that “ends up being the best fit. I also love to run man, so I want a college that runs a lot of man and has a good defensive coordinator set up.”
When asked if he had a chance to meet current Gators and former Redskins defensive backs coach Torrian Gray during the visit, Green-Warren said he “thought so,” and that if the man he met was Gray, he was a “cool, straightforward guy.”
Gray helped develop Florida cornerbacks Teez Tabor, Quincy Wilson, and Duke Dawson, as well as safety Marcus Maye in 2016. Tabor and Wilson were second-round picks and Maye was a third-rounder in the 2016 NFL Draft. Dawson stayed for 2017 and came off the board in round two.
However, if Florida wants Green-Warren’s signature, they’re going to have to beat out some pretty pedigreed programs.
“The schools I’m looking the most at right now are Oklahoma, Clemson, LSU, and Florida,” he told ITG.
So, two playoff teams, including 2018’s National Championship winner, plus the other DBU… all of which are closer to Green-Warren’s native Santa Ana. Pretty stiff competition. But once again, Florida’s stunning transformation into a top ten program is attractive to the country’s top prospects.
“I’ll go anywhere,” Green-Warren promised. “As long as I can play football with the right staff, I’ll go anywhere.”
Green-Warren is not expecting to attend Florida’s Junior Day, but assured ITG that he will return to Gainesville in the Spring.