Missouri recruit and former Alabama player debate SEC Championship

Missouri’s lone football recruit from Georgia this year and his high school coach have been going back and forth at each other this week about Saturday’s SEC Championship game.

The recruit is TJ Warren, a 3-star defensive back from Rockdale County who committed to Missouri a couple of months ago.

Warren’s coach is Venson Elder, who played linebacker for Alabama under Bear Bryant and Ray Perkins for the 1982-86 seasons.

DB TJ Warren

DB TJ Warren (right)

“He thinks that Missouri is going to pull the upset,” Elder said on Thursday.

“I tell him that we (Alabama) are going to pound them into the ground. We’re going to take that SEC Championship away from Missouri. But he’s sticking strong with Missouri. He thinks they’re going to surprise everyone.”

The 6-foot, 190-pound Warren picked Missouri over Indiana, Georgia Tech and Southern University. It was an easy decision because his family is from Missouri.

“I think they want to play him as a corner,” Elder said. “I feel like he has a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball. But he’s a heck of an athlete. He will do well wherever they put him, but he’s a natural on the offensive side of the ball. He can play tailback, slot receiver or wide receiver. We had him in the Wildcat formation and he put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

Missouri also previously had another 2015 commit from Georgia, tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe of North Gwinnett High School. Imatorbhebhe de-committed because Missouri got upset that he took an official visit to Florida.

Last year, Missouri signed three players from Georgia. Most notably, the Tigers held off late charges from UGA and Alabama for Tavon Ross, a safety from Bleckley County High School.

Missouri’s growing presence in recruiting the state is tied directly to the Tigers becoming SEC members in 2012.

“Obviously, they made a decision as a staff to recruit Georgia once they joined the SEC,” said Rusty Mansell of 247sports. “Here’s something that a lot of people don’t think about: Yes, they may only play at UGA every other year, but they’re also going to play at South Carolina, at Tennessee, at Vanderbilt and at Florida every other year.

“So if you’re a Georgia kid, your family is going to get to see you play close to home at least a couple of times every year – as opposed to going out West or up North. After joining the SEC, Missouri decided to come into Georgia like a lot of out-state-schools have been doing over the years. It was a no-brainer.”

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