You may have heard of E.J. Warner.  Most media pundits compare him to his father, Kurt.

You can’t blame them.  It’s easy to do it.

An unheralded backup quarterback replaces the starter.  A signal-caller who’s not afraid to stand tall in the pocket and take hits.  He exceeds expectations and never looks back.

Kurt Warner’s story is one of the best in football history.  He went from bagging groceries to winning the Super Bowl.  How many people can say that?

But comparing this true freshman quarterback to his father is doing him a major disservice.

Yes, E.J. Warner happens to be the son of a Hall of Famer.

But he’s writing his own underdog story.  One that stands alone, regardless of his bloodline.

E.J. Warner throws a pass during a workout with Elite 11
Photo Credit-Elite 11

E.J. Warner was not a highly-touted prospect in high school.  At 5’11” 185 pounds, he was an undersized three-star recruit.

He missed all but a quarter of his entire junior season with a broken right fibula – a right-handed quarterback’s plant leg and foundation of their power.

He didn’t have many college offers by that point and faced a long recovery ahead of a critical senior year.

So he buckled down, got healthy, and returned to the field for his final high school season.

That year, Warner completed 288 of 446 passes, throwing for 2,742 yards and 26 touchdowns.  His performance under center led his team into the state playoffs with a 7-5 record.

“E.J. is one of the sharpest and smartest football players I have ever been around,” Brophy Prep head coach, Jason Jewell, said. “He absolutely loves football and is a student of the game.”

College scouts took notice, and a few offers trickled in.

After visits to other schools, Warner fell in love with Temple University.  The campus, the coaches, the players, the city, and – of course – the food.

Five days after his official visit, he committed to the Temple Owls.  But he knew he wouldn’t waltz right in and become a starter.

“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,” E.J. said at the time.

“Whether it’s playing early on or waiting my turn, I’m going to do it for them.”

So Warner didn’t waste time.  He immersed himself in the playbook, which he learned of in his first meeting with the team’s offensive coordinator, Danny Langsdorf.

“It’s a new system [for me],” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But I think it all translates if you have the knowledge of the game.”

Making the leap from high school to Division 1 college football isn’t easy.  The game is faster.  Defenses are smarter.  And the players are bigger and stronger.

On top of that, E.J. faced stiff competition at Temple’s quarterback position.

The true freshman contended with more experienced college passers, some of whom transferred over from big-time programs like Georgia and Virginia Tech.

Kade Warner, a senior wide receiver at Kansas State, remembers talking to his younger brother during those first few weeks.

“In fall camp, [E.J.] called me and said, ‘Hey, I’m not where I want to be on the depth chart.’ I said, ‘Only you can control that…so keep working.’”

So E.J. did.  And his chance came earlier than anyone expected.

In the second game of the 2022 season, the Owls’ offense struggled to move the ball down the field.  After taking a 7-0 lead, they stalled out and turned the ball over, killing any early momentum they had.

Looking to kickstart his offense, Temple’s head coach, Stan Drayton, made a change.

In came #13.

“It was a huge shock when we saw him come in during the second quarter,” said Bella DiAmore of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

With more experienced quarterbacks on the roster, no one anticipated the freshman to be first in line.  But the team needed a spark, and E.J. was ready for the opportunity.

“He came in and he proved that he can play Division 1 football,” DiAmore said.  “He didn’t look like a freshman.  I know that’s cliche to say, but he really didn’t.”

The true freshman took command of the offense, throwing for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns, leading the Owls to a 30-14 victory over Lafayette.

“He has a very high ceiling as a player,” said Coach Drayton after the game. “Still has a lot to learn, but to be able to get on the stage when his number was called and be prepared was something that we’re excited about.”

The freshman earned his first career start for Temple’s next game against Rutgers.  And while the Owls lost 16-14, Warner played well once again – throwing for 215 yards and a touchdown.

He’s responded well to adversity, and it’s tough to expect anything different.

If his early performance is any indication, E.J. Warner’s career will be exciting to watch.

Sure, his bloodline will remain a topic of discussion.  But when it’s all said and done, his accomplishments will stand on their own.