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Indiana introduces ultra-competitive, experienced recruiter Charlton Warren as defensive coordinator

When Charlton Warren was the defensive backs coach at the University of Georgia, the Bulldogs watched videos portraying Tom Allen and Indiana’s LEO mentality. 

Because of the contagious quality of LEO, Warren said he used these videos as motivation to inspire this group of players. At the end of the day, Warren said talent can only get a team so far, and the love, brotherhood and bond that is formed is what will put a team over the top.

Now Warren has a chance to be directly part of that LEO culture, as he was formally introduced as Indiana’s new defensive coordinator at a press conference on Jan. 27. Warren will also coach the Hoosier linebackers, and was attracted to Indiana for a variety of reasons. 

“I really was drawn to Indiana, probably like everybody else in the country, by the great spirit, the culture, the bond that these guys play with,” Warren said. “The things they have been able to do have been amazing.”

Indiana is coming off a 6-2 season in which it defeated Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin in the same season for the first time in program history. While Indiana’s season ended on a low note with a 26-20 loss to Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl, Warren is excited to join what Allen has built at Indiana. 

Warren said multiple times on Wednesday that the culture of Indiana football was attractive to him. The ability for Indiana to recognize that it is not about one person having talent, but rather a buy-in throughout the entire organization, resonates with him. 

“It’s a lot easier to overcome adversity when I got 100 brothers than when it’s just me by myself,” Warren said. “…A lot of places don’t have that. So for me, that was a big draw and it gets me sort of back to my roots of what I’m used to.”

Warren played college football at Air Force before spending a decade on active duty with the United States Air Force. He returned to Air Force in 2005 and held a number of coaching roles including defensive backs coach, recruiting coordinator, associate head coach and defensive coordinator.

Over the past seven seasons, Warren coached defensive backs at Nebraska, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia. This wealth of experience coaching in different parts of the country has helped Warren form relationships with coaches and communities throughout the United States. 

Warren said his biggest focus when recruiting is forming genuine relationships with the player and his family, which is in line with the beliefs of Allen, too. When recruiting, Warren said his job is not to sell a kid on anything, but to present him with the opportunity to get a great education, be developed as a man, developed as a football player and be prepared for what’s next in life.

“That could be a husband, that could be a doctor, a lawyer, an NFL football player, we are going to have all those guys,” Warren said. “It’s about that family saying, ‘I trust my son to come play for you and your organization, and you are going to do right by him.’ I think kids and parents can weed out if you are not genuine, and so for me it’s about being who I am.”

Warren has established relationships throughout states such as Florida and Georgia, which are known to be some of the best states for high school football. Most recently, Warren coached cornerback CJ Henderson at Florida, who was the ninth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Warren was also considered the primary recruiter who helped Georgia lock up the talents of five-star cornerback Kelee Ringo from Arizona, who was the No. 4 overall recruit in his class. Warren said it is important to recognize that you are not going to land every recruit, but if you don’t try, you’re not going to get any of them.

“We’re going to try, we’re going to get in the ring, we’re going to throw punches and we are going to recruit the best men for Indiana University that can help our team develop as a culture and help us win games in the future,” Warren said.

Because of his experience coaching and recruiting all across America, Warren said he is not going to be afraid to cast a wide net when recruiting for Indiana. While Warren has ties to a variety of states, he said it all boil down to being genuine when recruiting. 

“I sort of recruit nationally when it comes to skill positions and defensive backs,” Warren said. “So for me, I can go recruit in Alaska if you need me to. If the player is good enough I’ll go there.”

Warren describes himself as a very competitive person, which shows in his recruiting, but also in his coaching style. In college, Warren was nicknamed Mr. Intensity because of his work in the weight room, but this will also be seen on the sidelines for Indiana.

“I’m probably not going to be quiet,” Warren said. “You will probably hear me from a lot of fields over and not in a bad way, just I’m very passionate about the game and I’m very passionate about seeing kids make plays and grow. As a coach, when it clicks for a player and the light comes on and you see them playing full tilt, not thinking and just playing the game they love is very exciting.”

Warren will now take over Kane Wommack’s 4-2-5 defense that led the nation with 17 interceptions and totaled 25 sacks in 2020. While Warren has not held a defensive coordinator position since his time at Air Force, he said at some point he always wanted to get back to this role. 

Warren said Indiana’s 4-2-5 defense will be easy to adjust to because of his experience at other schools. Every school Warren has coached has has been based on a five-defensive back personnel group, which is similar to Indiana’s defense, conceptually. 

“A lot of the same families of pressures, a lot of that stuff starts to be the same as,” Warren said. “It’s just a tweak here, a technique here, a fundamental here.”

Indiana loses just two starters on the defensive side of the ball, defensive lineman Jerome Johnson and safety Jamar Johnson. Because of this, Warren said he is not going to come in and disrupt what Indiana has built. 

One of Warren’s first tasks as defensive coordinator has been to take a look at ways offenses hurt Indiana in 2020. He said a lot of teams like to copycat what works against a certain defense, but he will work to make sure Indiana’s defense continues to develop.

“What I’m excited to do is take the pieces that have been great and look at ways that we can improve,” Warren said. “Because no matter if you’re the best defense in America or the worst defense in America, you are always trying to find a way to improve.”

Most of Warren’s experiences coaching defensive football have come with a focus on defensive backs. Brandon Shelby will remain as Indiana’s cornerbacks coach with Jason Jones coaching safeties, which leads Warren to take on the role of linebackers coach, too. 

Because of his experience coaching defensive backs, Warren said he hopes he can provide the Indiana linebackers with a perspective of the entire defensive gameplan. 

“I think a lot of times [linebackers] get this tunnel vision of, ‘Hey I can see from tackle to tackle,’” Warren said. “Well, I’m hoping with these guys and their development and growth that I can get big-picture view…Make sure we understand (what’s) happening behind and around me and then obviously understanding my job in front of me.”

But above all else, Warren has joined Allen’s coaching staff to win games. Indiana’s nonconference schedule features a matchup with Cincinnati, who was No. 8 in the final 2020 AP poll. In addition to playing a full Big Ten East schedule, the Hoosiers have an intriguing crossover matchup at Iowa in week one, and you can bet the competitive Warren will get up for each and every game. 

“I think the more energy you bring the better it is for everybody,” Warren said. “For me, I’m super competitive. Don’t play me in checkers. I want to win.”

My name is Jack Ankony and I am a senior from Mount Prospect, Illinois. I have covered the Indiana football team the last two seasons, and my work with HN started on the baseball and women's basketball beats. I love to write and talk about sports.

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