NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Thick fingers on powerful hands clicked away at a keyboard.
|Rookie Chance Warmack, who was drafted with the 10th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, is expected to start at right guard this season. |
Click here for a slideshow of Warmack's draft and college experiences.
The 2013 first-round (10th overall) pick of the Titans wants to join that list sooner rather than later and believes he’s begun his pro career in an enabling environment. He is playing for not one but two coaches — Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews — who were also drafted in the top 10 by the Titans/Oilers franchise and had respective playing careers of 12 and 19 years that landed each in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s the first time Warmack’s ever had a position coach who had played offensive line at any level.
One day after signing his rookie contract, Warmack had several million reasons to be excited, yet he was low key. He had gone through the morning’s walkthrough practice and an open locker room media session in which he said he didn’t have an interest in splurging on a big-ticket item to celebrate.
“This (being in an NFL locker room, specifically Tennessee’s) is the big-ticket item right here,” Warmack said. “This is all I care about.”
“This isn’t something I just took up for a hobby,” Warmack said. “I was privileged enough to pay my way through college by playing this sport. That’s a big deal. Now, I’m blessed enough to do this as a job, as a professional, so of course, you’ve got to know the history of what you do. You don’t do something you don’t know how it started, so I’m all into football, but I’m more so into my position.”
The searches began when he was in high school. He’d look at recruiting websites that ranked players of his age, and he’d also learn everything he could about players at the next level and the level after that. He took notes on what they did so he could decipher why they had been successful and directed his own goals.
Larry Allen, who was just enshrined in Canton, frequently had Warmack’s attention. Other efforts yielded more results.
“Brian Waters pops up, Will Shields, Coach Matthews, Coach Munchak, guys like that that you just look at — Orlando Pace — you want to emulate that and try to get on that level,” Warmack said. “That’s why we all do this.”
Warmack’s family helped cultivate his enthusiasm for learning. His grandparents went to college, his mother (his “biggest mentor”) works in education, and his father, who put himself through school, has shifted from his career as an attorney to one with an Internet company.
“My mom introduced me to football at a young age and I fell in love with it,” Warmack said. “She kind of inspired me to play the game.”
|While at Alabama, the guard started a style that became known as "Warmacking" by pulling up his jersey to stay a little cooler.|
He graduated from high school and enrolled early at Alabama after earning a scholarship. He made 45 starts and helped the Crimson Tide win three titles, but walked to class and practice his first three years. The sweat poured off the 323 pounder in the hot, humid Alabama air.
“I look at it as every time I walked to class or to practice, it humbled me,” Warmack said. “It made me know that I’m going to appreciate that car once I get it and I’m going to appreciate that license once I learn how to drive and all that stuff. I appreciate everything that’s been given to me that I worked for over my entire life so far and I don’t want to waste it. I want to make the most of it, just like this opportunity right here. I take it very serious, but have fun with it because it’s a balance between being too serious about it.”
By the time Warmack was 20 and got his driver’s license, he already appeared to be on the road to the NFL. He kept doing his homework on teams. At the NFL Combine in February, he briefly met Munchak and Matthews. Interest among both parties grew, and Warmack agreed to have a special workout for Titans coaches with former teammate D.J. Fluker a day after Alabama’s Pro Day in March. It was the only such workout Warmack agreed to do. He wanted to perform well in “crunch time.”
Matthews said after the Titans drafted Warmack one spot before San Diego drafted Fluker that he went into the workout “very skeptical, wanting to shoot him down at every turn.”
“Really for me, I go in very skeptical on linemen that I’ve heard about because typically, they’re a product of the team they’ve played on,” Matthews said. “Alabama, having such a great tradition, such a hot streak, you kind of think, ‘Well, they’ve got a bunch of other guys on the team that are pumping him up.’ ”
Munchak said Warmack performed well during the workout and when they went into the offensive line room at Alabama to have Warmack break down what he saw on tape.
“We got a chance to spend a lot of time with him, worked him out for about an hour and a half,” Munchak said. “We wore him out pretty good. We watched a lot of tape together. We spent the afternoon, which I think really made us feel very comfortable with him.”
Like many strong candidates do, Warmack sort of flipped the job interview, evaluating the knowledge and personalities of the men tasked with evaluating his.
“We went over a few games, the goods, the bads and talked about what I could have done better, what I did well, and just talked about life, too,” Warmack said. “That’s when it hit that I can play for these guys because they’re good people first and foremost and they’re good coaches, so here I am.”
Warmack is projected to start at right guard, forming a powerful combination with right tackle
“Even in the NFL you don’t see the kind of power he has, the way he moves the line of scrimmage,” Munchak said. “To me, he is the complete package. He loves the game; he has a passion for it.”
Warmack is beginning his career with gratefulness to those who helped him make it to the NFL, an appreciation for where he is and a passion for where he wants to go.“There’s a lot of people that came in my life that’s helped me to where I am now,” Warmack said. “It’s a great city, great people in this organization, and they’ll develop me into the player I think I can be — I know I can be.”