Alabama was not taking a big chance... Well, okay, yes the Crimson Tide was taking a big Chance. A big Chance Warmack. Bama signed Warmack, the 45th ranked offensive guard by Scout.com, when he finished at Westlake High School in Atlanta in time to enter The University for the spring semester in 2009. And while it wasn’t considered a gamble, no one was really jumping up and down about the recruiting coup, either.
Perhaps because of that spring work, Warmack worked his way into the playing rotation on the undefeated, 2009 Southeastern Conference and BCS National championship team.
And Warmack, now a 6-3, 320-pound senior, has been a three-year starter, won another national championship last year, and is projected as a top National Football League draft pick this spring.
Before that, though, Warmack wants to take care of some more business. That starts Saturday against the team he heard most about when growing up. Alabama, ranked second in the nation and champion of the SEC Western Division, takes on Georgia, ranked third and champion of the SEC East, in the SEC Championship Game in Warmack’s hometown of Atlanta. Both teams are 11-1 overall and 7-1 in SEC games. Kickoff will be at 4 p.m. EST (3 p.m. central time) with television coverage by CBS. The winner of the game is expected to go to Miami to face Notre Dame in the national title game on Jan. 7.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t special for me,” Warmack said Monday. “My (high school) offensive line coach played for Georgia back in the day. I’m from Atlanta, Georgia. It’s going to be exciting to play against a school that I had always seen and heard about growing up in Atlanta. So I’m excited about that.”
Warmack, who has had heard from many friends and family members since Alabama routed Auburn, 49-0, last Saturday to earn the spot in the SEC Championship Game, said “It’s an exciting thing for me and my teammates who are from Georgia. It’s the kind of thing you hope for. I’ve never played against Georgia; I wasn’t here in 2008. I always wanted a chance to play these guys.”
Warmack expects a challenge. “I heard they had some guys who are like 370 (on the defensive line),” he said. “so I guess I need to get my weight up this week.
“Week in and week out, you play against some big opponents. That’s the game of football. I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited about it.”
Although Alabama film preparation for Georgia was to begin after Warmack met with sportswriters Monday, he has watched the Bulldogs on television. He certainly knows of star Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones.
““I’ve been hearing about him all season,” Warmack said. “I’ve heard he’s an excellent pass rusher and a good defensive player. I watched him a few times on TV. He’s a tremendous athlete, a monster inside.”
As good as Jones is, though, Warmack said the attention of the Tide offense is not focused on him. “Football is a team sport,” Warmack said. “We look at their defense as a whole. They have good athletes who can make big plays. We’ll get into it more after watching the film. But looking at them compared to other defenses we’ve played this season, they’ve done a good job.
“They are a good team in every aspect. That’s why they are where they are. They play a physical game of football, and you respect that as an opponent and you look for that in the game coming up. I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
Although Warmack has not played in an SEC Championship Game since his freshman year, he said, “It’s a tremendous experience. It’s an important thing. You have to get prepared for it. Take it all in and experience it the right way and be thankful that we’re here.”
He thinks it’s something he can share with younger teammates as Bama prepares for Saturday.
“Experiencing that as a young freshman made me think that all the work in the off-season is paying off,” he said. “We played a great season and played Florida that year and we won. It just goes to show you that what you experience as a young freshman has a lot to do with how you are as a senior, and I can tell that to the freshmen and sophomores who are here now.”