Here’s an expert family witness on Temple QB E.J. Warner (and it’s not Dad)
Kade Warner, a receiver at Kansas State, says his younger brother is the better athlete among the two. “He’s wanted this moment for so long, maybe too long,” Kade said.
Kade Warner, in college for a sixth pandemic-provided year, is a wide receiver at Kansas State. Kade’s game on Saturday against Missouri started two hours ahead of another game being played by the Temple Owls in Philadelphia. Even with a long lightning delay, Kansas State finished ahead of Temple.
Right after his own team won, Kade started getting texts from his parents, who had just left his game, heading for the airport.
“Elijah’s in,” was the first text.
The official Temple roster lists a freshman quarterback named E.J. Warner. Within the Warner family, that’s Elijah.
Another text: “Elijah threw his first touchdown.”
Another: “He got another.”
» READ MORE: Temple beats Lafayette, 30-14
Temple’s new QB is best known as son of Kurt, which comes with the territory when Dad was twice MVP of the NFL, with two teams, the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals.
Kade, on the phone Tuesday from Manhattan, Kan., is a pretty good expert witness on what is happening with his younger brother, who has already ascended to first on Temple’s depth chart, two games into his college career, Rutgers visiting the Linc on Saturday.
Being the son of Kurt Warner would seem to offer obvious pressures.
“Pressure is a privilege,” Kade Warner said. “The upbringing we had, what we learned from our dad — to say it was hard on either of us, I wouldn’t say that at all.”
Even before Temple’s game was over, Kade sent his brother his own text telling him how proud he was of him. E.J. texted Kade the highlights.
A small-world aspect of all this is that Kade Warner started his career at Nebraska, eventually played in 24 Cornhuskers games, starting 16. When Kade redshirted as a freshman, his offensive coordinator was Danny Langsdorf. Langsdorf happens to be Temple’s first-year offensive coordinator under new coach Stan Drayton.
“I didn’t know even know where Coach Langsdorf was when my brother committed,” Kade Warner said. His reaction: “Oh, that’s awesome, great dude. He was very methodical in his work, going through every detail.”
So E.J. will now hit up his brother, looking for a little insight on something that’s a little complex, “You remember this concept?”
“Dude, I don’t even know what you’re talking about,” Kade would say, since that’s ancient history and a bunch of coaches ago.
We’ll have to wait on the perspective from the Temple folks. The Owls turned down interview requests this week for both E.J. and Langsdorf. Luckily, Kade fills in ably.
“Great little kid — I guess he’s grown up now,” Kade said, saying that maybe his brother looked up to him, since Kade was five years older, but Kade always saw his younger brother as the better athlete.
“There are two different types of athletes,” Kade said. “Guys who can run fast and jump high. That obviously is not me or my brother. But having spatial abilities, being aware of everything around, he always had that as a young kid. Watching him in basketball, the years when everybody could travel as much as they wanted, double- or triple-dribble, he was always trying to do it right.”
The kid worked at it. Kade doesn’t remember seeing anyone work harder at a young age.
“He’s wanted this moment for so long, maybe too long,” Kade said, relating how it was a disappointment for E.J. that he didn’t immediately rise to the top of Temple’s preseason depth chart. Keep working, you never know, was the mantra from the family.
» READ MORE: Temple felt like home for E.J. Warner and his dad
Even as a wide receiver, Kade said he learned all sorts of things from his father about running routes, how to gain leverage, efficient ways of getting open.
“We learned a base level of understanding of the game of football, how we’re trying to put a bind on the defense, where the reads are going to be — for me, how to use quarterback knowledge as a wide receiver.”
Kade saw his brother make college-level reads like during his junior year of high school, describing a play to the corner — “Tough read, tough throw, 40-yard completion. Next level.”
A core tenet of the Kurt Warner story — nothing is given. Warner famously worked as a grocery store shelf-stocker at a Hy-Vee grocery store in Cedar Falls, Iowa, after he was cut by the Packers as a rookie free agent. Kurt played indoors for the Iowa Barnstormers, then in Europe for the Amsterdam Admirals before first catching on with the Rams. A year later, Warner was both Super Bowl and league MVP.
“Every time we passed a Hy-Vee, he let us know,” Kade said of his father.
As for his brother making use of all that family football knowledge for Temple, Kade said, “He likes to think he’s second smartest in the family — and he’s close.”