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Texas RBs coach Stan Drayton believes Chris Warren III ‘can become great’

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It’s CWIII time now and Stan Drayton has high praise for the next Longhorns feature back.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Texas Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

How can the Texas Longhorns program possibly replace a 2,000-yard rusher in a matter of one offseason?

Start by bring aboard one of the most revered running back coaches in all of football in Stan Drayton and pair him with D’Onte Foreman’s 250-pound successor — Chris Warren III.

Now face-to-face with a feature back role entering his junior campaign, in the shadow of one of the greatest single-season displays in Texas football history, Warren has just the guy in place to bring his prowess and potential to light.

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Still early in his coaching career, Drayton has already provided guidance to the likes of Brian Westbrook, Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott, yet Drayton said he’s never seen a running back like Warren.

In short, Drayton’s reputation as one of, if not the best in the business precedes itself and months after one of the best running backs to ever suit up on the Forty Acres departed a season early in favor of playing on Sunday, Warren should benefit from being the first clay Drayton will mold in Austin.

Drayton already has a starting place for Warren in mind and it begins with relentless daily effort — a chant aligned with the Texas “1-0” motto.

“He just has to learn how to bring what it takes to be great work ethic to work every single day,” Drayton said of Warren and his desire to be great on Longhorn Network’s “Alignment” feature. “He’s got to put in relentless effort every single day.”

Simply put, Warren is working toward something he’s never had, at least at Texas, so the learning curve is unsurprising.

The Rockwall native carried the pigskin just 18 times in his first 10 games as a Longhorn before exploding onto the scene against the Red Raiders with a Texas freshman single-game rushing record of 276 yards and four touchdowns.

Warren’s national statement performance served as the first of four 100-yard displays in his next six games, stretching into what appeared to be a potential breakout sophomore season.

Four games into his second season on the Forty Acres, though — still serving as Foreman’s reserve — the imposing rusher’s 10-carry, 106-yard performance against Oklahoma State was cut short with a right knee injury that ultimately derailed his entire season; one that was on pace for 1,098 yards.

Now healthy in time for spring practice, though, the task at hand is now much taller than than arguably any Warren has faced throughout his young career — fulfilling the promised he’s flashed as the feature-back-to-be at The University of Texas.

A five-star chef when it comes to cooking up an elite running back recipe, Drayton seems to have Warren’s missing ingredient in mind.

“What we did with Chris Warren is we identified what his ‘why’ is, what his purpose is,” Drayton said. “Those are the things that are off the field that you don’t see when the helmet’s on. Those are the things where he’s got a big purpose and an incredible why about him that if he just taps into it in those moments when it gets tough and keeps it on the forefront of his mind every single day that he wakes up, I really do believe he can become great.”

Though the evidence is limited, what Warren has put on film leaves little doubt of his potential greatness. He’s a brute force with enough speed to break away in open space, a turbocharged bulldozer with nearly all of the tread on the tires.

With Drayton now under the hood helping Warren with the fine-tuning, it’s not far-fetched to predict we’ll see the second great back on the Forty Acres in as many seasons.