JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- In his last season in College Station, Ty Warren didn't even reach a bowl game, just the second time in 18 seasons that Texas A&M didn't qualify for a bowl.
But since he arrived in the pros, Warren not only has reached the postseason – he doesn't know what it's like to lose a playoff game.
Warren, the Patriots' second-year defensive tackle, found himself in the middle of the Super Bowl media circus for the second time. In two seasons. Many players go their entire careers without playing in a Super Bowl. Warren is about to make it two for two.
"It's not too bad," Warren said. "I feel real fortunate to be in this situation twice."
Warren, a former first-round pick, hasn't dominated at the next level but he hasn't had to dominate. He spent his first season adjusting to playing in the 3-4 defense, a situation in which some young Texans players can relate. Warren had played end, tackle and nsoe guard for the Aggies, but head coach Bill Belichick's 3-4 can be tricky for a savvy veteran. Warren had just 33 tackles and one sack, playing mostly inside behind mammoth defensive tackle Ted Washington.
But this season, Warren started every game at end and saw his totals improve to 48 tackles and 3 ½ sacks. He opened the season with 10 stops and a forced fumble against Indianapolis and ended it with eight tackles in New England's AFC Championship Game triumph at Pittsburgh. Those numbers may not seem massive, but Warren knows the Patriots' success on defense has little to do with numbers.
"To a lot of people, you are watching TV and you see a guy make a great play and you think, 'Wow, that was a great play that the guy made,'" Warren said. "But at the same time, you know that there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, places we need to be, and things we need to be doing in order for a lot of those plays to work."
Warren is where he needs to be more often than not and he credits New England's defensive veterans for helping the younger guys like himself and 2004 first-round pick Vince Wilfork.
"Those guys have been around the league a long time so they have a lot to share as far as experience and preparation going into games," Warren said. "They've had a lot to share with the young guys like me and any other rookie, on how things are done and what coaches expect of you.
"We have a lot of young guys, a lot who were drafted in the first round, including myself. I think the future's bright for us and we are just going to continue to work hard."
Warren, an Aggie since birth (he grew up in Bryan), knows how fortunate he is to be playing in his second Super Bowl so quickly. But he should also get some credit for buying into the system and working his way into the starting lineup.
"Everybody's goal going into each season is to get to this point," Warren said. "When I came in as a rookie, and even this year, Belichick had a way of doing things, and everybody buys into that, and I think that's a big reason we're at this point right now."
Right now is five days away from Super Sunday, which also happens to be Warren's 24th birthday. We're guessing we know what's at the top of his list.