Liberty County Panther head football coach Kirk Warner has had opportunities that most coaches never get.
Last year during Christmas break, Warner coached the secondary in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. This year, he was the tight-end coach under former NFL head coach Herm Edwards on Team Nitro at Thursday’s Under Armor All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. Nitro was the same team his former linebacker Raekwon McMillan played for.
“The experiences are different in the aspect that the climate and attractions for family and players are much more family friendly than San Antonio,” said Warner, who played tight end at the University of Georgia. “The staff at Under Armour not only assured the coaches had a great time but really opened the welcome mats out for our families. That was a huge upgrade in my opinion. As far as the players, each game hosted a bunch of future NFL players.”
The Under Armour game will boast 34 alumni in Monday night’s national-championship game between Auburn and Florida State, including Florida State quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
During the week, Warner spent a lot of time with Edwards and some of the best high-school coaches in the country.
“Coach Edwards is a very smart man — in particular, his expertise in coaching (defensive backs),” Warner said. “I have learned so much from him in a short period of time. It was truly an honor to work with him. Hopefully, I will have another opportunity to work with him again.”
Warner got to work with Jeb Blazevich, a Charlotte, N.C., native and UGA signee. Blazevich, out of Charlotte Christian School, is the No. 3 tight end on the ESPN 300 and No. 97 player overall. He is expected to make an immediate impact at Georgia. According to bleacherreport.com, Blazevich had two catches for 17 yards in the game.
“I spent a lot of time with Jeb. I honestly think he will continue the legacy of great Georgia tight ends,” Warner said. “He is a great route runner with very reliable hands. As with most freshmen, he has to get a little stronger in the weight room to withstand the rigors of playing SEC football. He is going to be a good one,” Warner said.
Even though Warner spent the week on the opposite of the ball, one could tell by the look on his face the pride he felt seeing McMillan, an Ohio State commit, finish his prep career on a big stage.
“It was great and a little emotional. It’s hard to see the greatest player Liberty County has produced leave. But it was a blessing that I could be on the sideline with him for his last high school game,” Warner said. “I told him that on each level, he has to reset his goals to meet higher expectations. His work ethics will have to increase from high school to college to hopefully NFL. If he does those things and keeps God first, he will continue to make us proud in Liberty County.”