Early in BYU football’s short 2020 spring camp, one of the quarterbacks fired a pass during a skeleton drill — only to have Cougar senior defensive back Troy Warner pull it in instead.
His defensive teammates had a great time celebrating but was it a big deal? It was just a drill during spring football.
But it was to Warner.
“If it’s not fun for you to be making plays like that, there is something wrong,” Warner said. “You get a good feeling when you are helping your side of the ball. For me with the defensive, if I can make plays then it makes me feel good.”
It was even sweeter for Warner, who had his 2019 season be severely limited due to injuries. He ended up making 11 total tackles in four games last fall.
“I want to establish myself as a leader for the defense,” Warner said. “I want to be a guy my teammates can look up to and trust. I feel like I’ve been good in the past but this year is my year to be great. I can do that by making plays. That’s what I’m focused on, making plays and being a leader for my teammates.”
While the 2020 season faces a host of unknowns due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cougars plan to be ready to go whenever its time to play football.
That means that guys in the secondary like Warner have to be prepared, particularly since BYU lost some key contributors from last year’s team to graduation.
“I don’t feel much pressure,” Warner said. “I’m really confident with the talent we have at the back end still, even though guys like Austin Lee and Dayan Ghanwoloku are gone. There are more opportunities for us to make those plays is how I see it. The more I can make and the more we can make as a team is going to benefit us.”
During his career, Warner has shown that he can be a productive force on his side of the ball. He has tallied 92 total tackles, 14 pass breakups and recovered two fumbles.
He wants the BYU defensive coaches to be able to rely on the secondary to take care of business, whether they are rushing everyone or dropping everyone into coverage.
“We want to show we can handle the load on the back end,” Warner said. “As soon as the defensive staff knows we can handle it, then we can mix it up more and do different things. When you are good on the back end, it helps your defense tremendously.”
He believes that having so many Cougar defenders with experience will pay dividends in the games.
“When I was a true freshman, I know I had nerves going out there because I had never had much game time,” Warner said. “Now that there are a lot of guys who are veterans, who have experience, you can just go out there and and not be scared. You can go out there and know you can dominate at your position.”