AMES — Two naps. Two Big 12 Freshman Player of the Year awards for ISU in back-to-back seasons.
Coincidence? Maybe. Either way, Cyclone safety Kamari Cotton-Moya — and now running back Mike Warren — have made their spare slumber count.
“I didn’t know the awards were coming out today,” said Warren, who earned the top freshman award on the offensive side of the ball one season after Cotton-Moya did it on defense. “I was kind of waiting for it. I thought it was going to be after all the bowl games and all that.”
Nope. The Big 12 announced all of its postseason awards late this morning. And Warren, who leads all freshman runners with 1,339 yards this season, didn’t hit snooze once his phone started beeping and dinging.
“(It) was blowing up,” he said.
Just like him. Warren hit the ground running hard and fast once he became ISU’s starting tailback for the Toledo game. He rushed for 126 yards against the Rockets, then piled up 175 in the win over Kansas and a season-best 245 in the loss at Texas Tech.
His next goal?
“Probably 2,000 yards,” Warren said.
Ambitious. Only Troy Davis has done that at ISU and he eclipsed the 2K mark twice in a row.
What would it take for Warren to rise to that level?
“A lot more than I did this year,” he said.
So the offseason means hitting the weights. He’ll train smart and long. His physical aim: Pack on lean muscle so would-be tacklers will be left in his wake more often in 2016.
“Definitely try to put little more weight on,” said Warren, who led the Big 12 in rushing yards (1,185) and yards per game (131.7) in conference games only. “I should run through more tackles. Just get stronger in my lower body as well as my upper body, too. … just be a bigger guy, be more of a threat to people.”
That thought excited ISU defensive tackle Demond Tucker, who shook his head when asked about Warren’s ability to both barrel off tackle and swiftly sweep wide.
“I put it like this: if he can gain a little bit more weight on him and with the speed that he has, he’s going to be unstoppable,” said Tucker, who earned Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors today. “He’ll be the best back in the Big 12. As of right now, to me he’s the best back.”
He’s certainly giving.
Late in the season, Warren offered up culinary thanks to his offensive linemen by taking them out to Texas Roadhouse. As for the bill, he didn’t go into specifics.
“A lot,” Warren said with a laugh.
That term aptly describes how he expects to improve in the offseason, too. Warren rushed 227 times for those 1,339 yards and five touchdowns this season while averaging 5.9 yards per carry. He expects his work load to increase under new coach Matt Campbell — just as he likes it.
“Most likely it’s going to be even bigger,” Warren said. “Just seeing the past two years when we played Toledo, just seeing how they run so much, I’m expecting a lot of work.”