Once he was finished as a player, Warren McCarty worked for over a decade in professional football followed by several years spent hosting a talk show at ESPN, and doing those things gave him some of the more interesting and rewarding years of his life.
But the further removed he became from his playing days as a young man, McCarty began to feel himself pulled back towards the earlier stages of the game he loves. At the same time, he began to realize that he had amassed a considerable amount of experience and knowledge at many levels of the game, which meant he had a lot to offer future generations of football players.
The compulsion to give back to the game that gave him so much drove McCarty to develop several interrelated ventures — Warrior Training, Warrior Recruiting and Warrior 7-on-7 — all designed to help high school football players in Colorado prepare for, and navigate, the many trials that stand in the way of a dream to play football in college.
"I spent 11 years in pro football scouting and coaching," McCarty said. "I got out of it and started hosting a talk show for ESPN in 2008. But I needed to scratch that coaching itch. I was living in West Texas and I realized that very few of the talented kids from our area were getting chances to go play big Division-I football, or sometimes any football in college. I moved to Colorado in 2011 and I saw the same thing. People were still stuck in the old mindset that if you're good enough, you'll get noticed.
"That's simply not the case."
McCarty, who also runs Warrior Coaching Management and represents 26 collegiate and NFL coaches, started Warrior Recruiting in 2008 while still living in Texas. He has since placed five players in college who went on to be starters in the NFL. McCarty has recently handled the recruiting for several local standouts including Legacy's Matt Lynch (UCLA) and Ryan Lynch (Colorado State), Fairview's Aidan Atkinson (Northwestern) and Matt Greenwald (Boise State), Skyline's Jeremy Hollingsworth (Wyoming) and Kyle West (Colorado School of Mines), Holy Family's Chris Helbig (Southern Utah) and Kyle Helbig (Colorado State ), Longmont's Eli Sullivan (Nebraska) and Niwot's Alex Oelsner (Northwestern). The list just keeps growing, and then there are many up-and-coming players like Skyline sophomore quarterback Chase Silva who are just getting started down the training and recruiting path with McCarty as their guide.
McCarty has developed many connections and a considerable amount of first-hand experience over many years of working in various sectors of the football industry. These things can prove to be invaluable assets to potential high school recruits when the greatest challenge they face is often simply getting an opportunity to make an impression.
"It's about relationships as well as what a player is able to represent on the field," McCarty said. "I have relationships with players and I have perspective because I represent coaches so I know the kind of volume they're bombarded with on a daily basis. But I have a proven credibility and a track record that helps me get coaches and recruiters to answer the phone when I call. And that's how I can help kids the most: just getting a coach to answer a call or an email and at least give a kid the time of day, to give them a look."
Not content to simply manage high school players' recruitment, McCarty later set out of develop a more start-to-finish approach to placing football players from across the Front Range at the next level.
Adding Warrior Training and the Warrior 7-on-7 program to his list of offerings, McCarty now has the ability to provide his athletes with a hands-on coaching and training experience. With all that he offers, McCarty takes pride in his ability to aid each individual player's physical, cognitive and personal progression, as well as help manage and promote their activity as a recruit.
In Warrior Training, the Longmont resident works with athletes from all over Colorado and holds training sessions at Longmont Athletic Club, Skyline High School, Redline Athletics in Westminster, as well as Panorama Wellness & Sports Institute in Highlands Ranch. As a former quarterback, McCarty tends to specialize in quarterback training but also works with wide receivers and other positions.
In Warrior 7-on-7, McCarty offers a high-level traveling football program for players to stay sharp, stay competitive and continue to gain exposure during the offseason. The program divides 33 hand-selected players into two teams — Warrior Sword and Warrior Shield — and plays three out-of-state tournaments a year. Calling the Denver Broncos' indoor practice facility home, Warrior 7-on-7 is the only program in the country to practice at an NFL facility. Last year, the Warrior 7-on-7 teams reached the Elite Eight and Final Four, respectively, at two separate national tournaments.
McCarty believes he has created a multifaceted model by which he can begin working with an athlete at a young age, helping to teach him the football skills he needs to reach the collegiate level while simultaneously providing knowledge and guidance to streamline and accelerate the recruiting process.
"The word gets thrown out a lot but it really is about the process," McCarty said. "It's about taking that young kid who has a hope and a dream, and a willingness to work. Being able to take him at a young age and help him develop as a player and develop a plan. Getting to watch that dream come true is a great feeling. It's so incredibly gratifying that it's hard to put into words."
Admittedly, McCarty is a straight shooter, which is something he believes to be important but also may not be for everyone. He tries to be realistic with his athletes in terms of their expectations, what level of interest they are receiving, even what position they should play, and always whether or not they are meeting the standards of preparation he deems necessary for them to realize their ambitions. Sometimes that can be difficult, but the results seem to speak for themselves.
Atkinson, who was named Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year after demolishing most of the state's passing records as a Fairview junior this past fall, has been working with McCarty since he was in the eighth grade. He gives McCarty a lot of credit for helping him become one of the best high school football recruits Colorado has produced.
"What Warren has done for me, personally, is that he expects nothing but the best from all the athletes he works with," Atkinson said. "Without what he has done to increase my leadership abilities, my cognitive abilities and my physical abilities, I wouldn't be the player or the man I am today. From him I learned to wake up every day and work because if you're not getting better, you're getting worse."
That is what McCarty does for a living, and he does it well.