Junior running back Chris Warren III has decided to transfer from Texas.
The news was first reported late Monday morning by Jason Suchomel of Orangebloods.com. Texas confirmed late Monday afternoon that Warren is transferring.
“After putting a lot of thought into it with my family, I talked to Coach Herman this morning and let him know I have decided it’s in my best interest to transfer from the University of Texas to continue my education and football career,” Warren said in a statement. “It was a difficult decision, and I’m thankful to all of my teammates and coaches I’ve had on the 40 Acres. Texas is a special place, and I’m appreciative to have had the opportunity to grow as a person and a student-athlete here.”
Warren, who was widely expected to be a force in the running game this season after the departure of D’Onta Foreman for the NFL Draft, never was able to find his footing in 2017.
Warren finished the regular season third on the team in rushing, totaling 314 yards and six touchdowns on 71 carries. His best performance came in the Longhorns’ second game against San Jose State. Warren rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. But that performance was as good as it would get for Warren this year.
Texas’ running game was a quandary all season long, and Warren’s role had been a major question mark. The Longhorns struggled throughout the season to find any consistency on the ground.
Head coach Tom Herman and offensive coordinator Tim Beck were criticized early in the season for not using Warren enough, particularly following Texas’ 27-24 double-overtime road loss to then-No. 4 USC on Sept. 16. Warren received just four carries in that contest, rushing for 15 yards.
“We got to find a way to get him more yards,” Herman said the following Monday. “But in the middle of a game, when you see how that is shaking out, the definition of insanity is repeatedly performing the same act expecting different results.”
Warren notably critiqued the Texas offense following the Longhorns’ 13-10 overtime loss at home to then-No. 10 Oklahoma State on Oct. 21. Warren rushed 12 times for 33 yards that day, and Texas managed just 42 yards total on the ground. Warren was asked after the game why the offense was struggling.
“Because we don’t have a running game,” Warren said after the game. “I think that we’re too one-dimensional and that’s easy to predict, so that’s why we’re not helping the defense."
Warren’s role within the running game had greatly diminished by late October. After the Oklahoma State game, Warren carried the ball just four times for seven yards and one touchdown the rest of the season.
Texas elected to go in a different direction at running back late in the year, with freshmen Daniel Young and Toneil Carter primarily leading the way. Young has since emerged as the Longhorns’ main rushing threat and appears to be Texas’ No. 1 guy moving forward.
With the freshmen taking the lead in the backfield, Warren was moved to tight end in recent weeks after freshman Cade Brewer went down in practice with a torn ACL. Warren played tight end in the West Virginia and Texas Tech games, catching a touchdown pass against the Mountaineers.
Herman was asked ahead of the Texas Tech game how Warren was taking to his new role.
“He’s happy,” Herman said. “My first few months on the job, I had a difficult time reading his personality. But just getting to know him a little bit more over the course of these last few weeks and the change of position, he just wants to win. He’s excited when he can help his team win. He realizes that running backs are judged by their numbers and his numbers weren’t great early in the year.”
Warren’s career trajectory at Texas skyrocketed after his breakout performance as a freshman against Texas Tech in 2015. Warren set the program freshman single-game rushing record in Texas’ 48-45 loss to the Red Raiders that evening, rushing for 276 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries.
During his sophomore season in 2016, Warren suffered a knee injury four games in and missed the remainder of the year. He battled multiple injuries and a case of the mumps prior to the start of the 2017 season.