- 54 rushing attempts
- 324 yards
- 1 touchdown
- 5 receptions
- 57 yards
- 19 kick returns
- 23.1 yards per return
The three-star prospect neighborhood is where the Cincinnati Bearcats live. For every Malik Vann that decides to become a Bearcat, there are a cavalcade of three-star recruits ready to come in and become difference makers. Michael Warren II was one such three-star recruit and one that was brought in to help ease the transition from the Mike Boone/Tion Green backfield to that of the future.
As a true freshman, Warren was pushed into the fray pretty early on, which was a symptom of UC’s lack of depth at running back. While Boone had the talent to be a feature back who got 200 carries and ate up all the playing time, the Bearcats did not go in that direction. Instead, Gerrid Doaks and Warren both got work that was more than a little significant.
While Doaks really broke out, Warren quietly played well for a true freshman and set himself up nicely for a key rotational spot on the depth chart in 2018. With 54 carries, Warren received nearly as many touches as leading receiver Kahlil Lewis. He utilized those chances to create 324 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while turning five receptions into 57 yards. His 6.0 yards per carry average was actually the best mark on the team.
In addition to his work on offense, Warren was an important part of the special teams effort. As the team’s primary kick returner, he averaged 23.1 yards per return while returning more kicks (19) than the rest of the roster combined (16).
The Best of the Best
Sept. 16 at Miami (Ohio)
This was the first game where Warren really got to work. After managing only four carries in the first two games, he cobbled together 51 yards on nine carries, while also averaging 22.7 yards per kick return.
Sept. 30 vs. Marshall
He only got the ball five times, but that yielded 49 yards (9.8 YPC) and he scored his first career touchdown.
Nov. 10 vs. Temple
It was a pedestrian day on the ground (10 carries, 40 yards), but it marked the largest workload for Warren, who also had a season-high of 116 kick return yards.
For Next Year
The backfield is in a pretty good spot considering it has lost Green and Boone in back-to-back years. Doaks will be the player to get the attention in the offseason, but Warren is going to have a role to play, and a hefty one at that. For him to really take a jump in year two, he’ll need to work on becoming a better receiver out of the backfield, while continuing to find ways to pick up extra yardage after first contact.