Stuck near the bottom of the depth chart, Michael Warren had nowhere to go but up.
He couldn't help but grow more and more frustrated each game during his junior season as he watched from Lawton's sidelines.
He stood out during junior varsity games, putting up huge rushing totals. Still, he didn't play Fridays.
“It was really frustrating,” Warren said. “I don't know if the coaches saw it or not, but every team we played on the jayvee team I ran all over them. I was surprised they didn't notice at all until about midway through my junior year that I can run.”
When Warren got his chance, he never returned to the junior varsity field.
Instead, the running back produced a record-setting senior season for the Wolverines, rushing for 2,512 yards and 26 touchdowns and landing on The Oklahoman's All-State football team.
“Everything just fell into place,” Warren said.
As a junior, Warren started at running back the final three games of the season after seeing limited time at defensive end.
It was just a long journey as he matured and realized his abilities.
“I don't think he saw the big picture for a while there,” Lawton coach Randy Breeze said. “He was flat out an underachiever, and that can happen. Not that it's a bad thing, it's just a kid may not realize how much talent he's got or he may have other interests.”
Warren, who is an impressive 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, quickly realized his talent level during the summer when he surprised everyone with a 4.34 40-yard dash time at a Texas A&M camp after showing up unannounced.
“I just registered for the camp,” he said. “Nobody was expecting me, nobody knew me there, so I just went out there and did what I knew I could do.”
He hasn't slowed down ever since.
He set the school record for rushing yards in a game twice, settling at 358 yards in a blowout win against Edmond Santa Fe.
“I guess you can kind of say it was easy,” Lawton junior Jalin Barnett said about blocking for Warren. “Get a few blocks and he was out.
“I think he got better each week. He makes something out of nothing.”
There was also a downside to blocking for Warren, though. He had 14 touchdowns of 40-plus yards called back due to penalties.
But that is also an indication of the speed he possesses.
“His ability to get to full speed first step is amazing,” Breeze said. “Once he gets to the second level he's at full speed and he doesn't need much of a crack to go.”
Since bursting onto the scene, Warren has picked up seven Division I offers in hope that he gets academically qualified.
If he does, things may explode for him in the recruiting world. This time, though, it will be expected.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Warren said. “I'm not complaining.”