Jusstis Warren is a pleasant guy.
Really, he is.
Remove his helmet, take him out of shoulder pads and talk to him a half hour after a University of Washington football game or practice, and you’ll see the former Lincoln High School standout’s warm, inviting smile.
But on the field, especially this preseason camp with the Huskies, Warren has been nothing but feisty, edgy and downright confrontational.
“There is no back-down or slowdown in him,” UW defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said.
That attitude has Warren in line for serious playing time this season.
Heading into the fourth week of fall camp, the 6-foot-2, 252-pounder is likely the second-string strong-side linebacker behind a fellow Pierce County product, Benning Potoa’e of Lakes High School.
“In the offseason, me and a lot of guys, especially me and Benning, put in extra work,” Warren said. “We hit the sleds and did stuff after workouts. We’ve just continued to work at it.”
Warren was the heart and soul of the Abes’ defense as a senior, amassing 106 tackles, including 18 sacks, as well as four forced fumbles and three interceptions. He helped lead his school to the Class 3A quarterfinals, losing to eventual state champion Eastside Catholic.
Warren was also named to The News Tribune’s All-Area first-team defense, as well as being selected to The Associated Press all-state team.
After all that production for former coach Jon Kitna, Warren admitted it took time adjusting to being the low man on the totem pole at UW, watching, learning and waiting.
“I’ve just tried to stay level-headed and tried to understand there is a process to things,” Warren said. “There have been guys now in the NFL who were ahead of me.”
Last season, as a redshirt freshman, he saw action in five games but did not record a tackle.
That should change this season.
“Jusstis, so far, has been our most improved linebacker,” Kwiatkowski said. “He’s made a lot of strides from even last year ... but he wears it on his sleeve when he doesn’t do some things right. That is part of the learning process for him, to move on and not beat himself up when he doesn’t execute like he wants to.”
Warren has shown real spark as a pass rusher coming off the edge, either getting to quarterback Jake Browning during live-period work, or getting tangled up and in the face of star left tackle Trey Adams.
“I’ve always been a guy who prided himself on being a hard worker,” Warren said. “That has made me more of an edgy player. It turns into competitive nature.”
It’s been 25 years since another former high-motor Lincoln standout made his presence felt at the UW — safety Lawyer Milloy.
Warren hopes to be the next Abes’ great on defense.
“Lawyer is one of the great Huskies of all-time,” Warren said. “I am just going to continue to grind, and put myself in the position I need to be in to be as good as I can be.”