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Hybrid defender leads Mission Hills

11/18/2013, 8:05pm PST
By John Maffei

New college suitors are testing senior’s BYU commitment.

— Fred Warner has made his decision.

The Mission Hills High senior linebacker committed verbally to play for BYU next season.

Still, he's being pursued.

Nebraska, USC and Washington have made contact. Thursday, the day before Warner and his Grizzlies beat Steele Canyon 56-35 in the first round of the San Diego section Open Division playoffs, Notre Dame was on the Mission Hills campus checking out Warner's interest in the Irish.

He has already listened to pitches from Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, UCLA, Washington State, Utah and Boise State.

"I'll listen to everyone," said the 6-foot-3 Warner, who started the season at about 220 pounds. "Can I be swayed not to go to BYU? I really don't know. I'd have to go an visit the campus of a school that wants me before I made a decision."

It was Warner's visit to Provo that sold him on BYU.

"I loved the atmosphere there," said Warner, whose mother attended BYU for a time. "I loved the coaches. And the players really seem to have a brotherhood.

"Plus, BYU's two outside linebackers are seniors, so there is a great opportunity to play as a freshman."

Warner has done plenty of playing at Mission Hills this season.

A good but not great player as a junior, he has blossomed into one of the top players in the county.

ESPN lists him as a four-star recruit, the 39th-best player in California and the 34th-best player at his position in the nation.

In addition to his dozen tackles Friday were a fumble recovery, an interception - his third of the season - and a sack, pushing that total to 11. Three of those sacks came in a Week 5 win over Oceanside.

And his totals could be higher.

"It seems like every team runs away from me," Warner said. "In pass-rush situations, there is always a lineman and running back on me.

"But I'm more experienced now than last season. I can see the double-team coming. So I've learned moves to combat it.

"I'm a captain and a team leader. The team feeds off my effort, and I pride myself on that.

"I bring energy every play."

Mission Hills coach Chris Hauser said his staff saw Warner's talent as a sophomore on the JV team.

"Then that spring, it was like 'Wow!," Hauser said. "We moved him around from defensive end, inside and outside linebacker.

"We worked with him to play in space."

Hauser said Warner has turned into a hybrid talent, a la former Valley Center High star Trevor Reilly, a senior defensive end/linebacker at Utah.

"Fred can rush the passer, but he can also drop back and defend against the pass," Hauser said. "That's what makes him so good, that's what makes him so valuable to the team.

"If we scheme things correctly, the defense doesn't know where he's coming from."

Warner has enjoyed Mission Hills' team success this season ... a 10-1 record and the No. 1 seed in the Open Division.

He and his younger brother, Troy ... a sophomore, have enjoyed playing together.

Fred Warner said Troy "is a better player than me at the same stage."

"We're only going to get this one chance to play together in high school," said Troy Warner, a 6-1, 180-pound receiver/defensive back. "We're great friends, but Fred is also the perfect role model.

"He's a very physical player. He never backs down. He gives 100 percent every play.

"I want to follow in his footsteps, on and off the field."

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