Elijah Warner left his official visit to Temple struggling to find any drawbacks. The people, the facilities, the campus, the food, the city — he genuinely enjoyed every bit of it.
Warner, a class of 2022 quarterback from Brophy College Prep in Phoenix, was accompanied on the Jan. 21 visit by his mother, Brenda. Five days later, he announced his oral commitment on Twitter. On Wednesday, he put pen to paper, signing to be an Owl.
“Most coaches say similar things, but you want to feel the conviction. You want to believe that what the person is saying, that what you buy into works,” said Kurt Warner, Elijah’s father and an Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback. “Mom came back and was fully sold. And EJ felt really comfortable with everything there.”
Temple is getting an accurate, cerebral quarterback in Elijah, steeped in guidance from his dad.
Elijah was recruited to Temple by running backs coach Preston Brown and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf. The latter previously recruited Elijah’s older brother, Kade, to be a walk-on wide receiver at Nebraska in 2017. Kade entered the transfer portal in 2021 and is now at Kansas State.
That connection was merely coincidental. Langsdorf was in Arizona to see the Rivals.com two-star prospect work out a week before his visit, so the two “started fresh.” Elijah said he was first introduced to Temple’s offense during that meeting.
“It’s a new system [for me] but I think it all translates if you have the knowledge of the game,” he said. “A lot of the pass concepts are the same and they attack certain areas of the defense that I think I have a good understanding of, especially with my upbringing and having my dad to be able to teach me.”
Warner played predominantly under center in his sophomore season, then sat out his junior year with a broken right fibula. He returned for his senior campaign and passed for 2,742 yards and 26 touchdowns with eight interceptions, mainly out of shotgun sets.
“I think you want every one of your quarterbacks to be a complete quarterback,” Kurt said. “I’m never going to teach a guy to be all of one thing and none of the other.”
He maintained that his son drilled both styles, predominantly to build cohesion between the clock in his head, his backpedaling feet, and his receiver’s route.
Although Temple hasn’t lined up a quarterback under center in recent history, a Langsdorf-led offense may include more versatility at the position.
Having his father as a teacher and coach has prepared Elijah to become a pro-style quarterback who, as Kurt says, despite not being the most athletic, can “win with his mind as much as anything.”
Temple coach Stan Drayton agreed. “He’s already understanding defenses, already anticipating throws off what the defense is giving him,” Drayton said. “As opposed to a guy who drops back there and waits for a guy that’s open. He’s going to anticipate that a tick sooner because he understands defense. … He just loves to study the game.”
Football is a constant talking point in the Warner household — much to Brenda’s dismay.
“She hates football,” Elijah said, laughing. “She hates watching her son get hit. She hates watching her husband get hit. So any time we talk about football, she definitely tries to diminish that talk and change the subject, but we still find ways to get it in.”
Kurt, on the other hand, toes the line of being a father and a coach. The bottom line for him has been to push his son because he knows what he’s capable of on the field. However, there are inevitable expectations that come with being the son of such a successful quarterback.
Elijah had his fair share of days feeling dejected about his offer list and at times felt his chances to become a successful collegiate quarterback waning. To which his father responded, “Hey, that was me.”
Kurt did not see a collegiate offer until the middle of basketball season his senior year at Regis High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At Northern Iowa, he didn’t start a game until his senior season in 1993. At 28 years old, in 1999, he got his first NFL start.
“I’m not a guy that’s constantly throwing my journey out at [Elijah and Kade], although they’ve heard a lot of it,” Kurt said. “When I can use something that I’ve been through or they reach out and ask … that’s when I kind of pull out my experiences. I want them to have their own journeys.”
Elijah now joins Drayton’s first recruiting class at Temple and a quarterback group lacking any extensive experience on North Broad Street.
“They just say the best man will play and they’re giving me the opportunity to come and compete, which is all I can really ask for,” Elijah said. “Whether it’s playing early on or waiting my turn, I’m going to do it for them.”