His coach, Brandon Matich, while still acknowledging the greatness of the five protectors, said he could have plugged other players into the position, but there wasn't anybody who could have done what Warren did this season.
"Jaylen's ability, he's different than most, because his acceleration is better than anybody I've coached," Matich said. "His ability to read blocks from that great O-line, cut off [of] those blocks, and accelerate through the hole and avoid contact — I don't care what the naysayers said. I can't put [just] anybody back there and have them put up those numbers."
Warren totaled 3,099 rushing yards — shattering the 37-year-old single-season state rushing record while becoming the first player to ever reach the 3,000-yard plateau. His 38 rushing touchdowns in 2016 are tied for the most in state history in one season, and he became the first player ever to rush for 100 yards in 14 games. He finished with 12 games of at least 200 yards, including 11 straight to end the year (and in the other two games, he rushed for 186 and 188 yards).
Matich was dead-on in his assessment: Nobody in the state of Utah has ever done was Warren did this year. And for that reason, he has been named The Salt Lake Tribune's 2016 Player of the Year.
"He always defers credit to everyone else," Matich said. "At times, he's an awkward interview because he's so shy and wants everyone else to have the attention, but when he found out he received this honor, he jumped up and down. He was excited. You give someone that type of recognition and it's that important to him that it makes him generate that type of emotion, you know you picked the right guy."
Warren said it succinctly, "It means a lot. I've definitely worked hard for this," before staying true to form by expressing how he wished he could share the award with his teammates.
Despite being named to the All-Tribune Team as a junior, Warren was somewhat of an afterthought then behind East quarterback Johnnie Lang, who led the Leopards to their first state championship since 1996. Let that marinate for a moment. Warren rushed for 1,984 yards and 19 touchdowns and was hardly talked about. It was a motivator entering this season, he admitted, as he wanted to prove he could be the primary featured back.
Not only did he accomplish that, Warren is now forever engraved in the history and lore of East football.
"Number 2 is something we pass on to every B-back we've ever had," Matich said of Warren's jersey number and position. "Everybody has worn [No. 2], and I'll tell you this: [Warren] has represented better than anybody. These guys will talk about Jaylen for years. Jaylen's name will forever be stamped in this program."