Five years ago Kahale Warring was busy earning all-conference honors as a goalie for the Sonora High School water polo team in central California. Now the San Diego State graduate’s unique set of athletic skills is opening some eyes with the Houston Texans. The defending AFC South champions, who opened training camp on July 25, will have him compete for significant playing time as a rookie tight end.
The Texans selected Warring in the third round of this year’s NFL draft after he earned honorable mention on the 2018 all-Mountain West Conference team. That after having played just one year of high school football, which he picked up only after the core of his water polo teammates graduated.
Despite Warring’s lean football credentials the Texans appear to be smitten by his wide-ranging athleticism. At Sonora in addition to his standout career in water polo, he was the league MVP in basketball and also played on the school’s tennis, cross country and swimming teams.
Since red-shirting as a walk-on for the Aztecs in 2015 he’s gone on to earn a full scholarship and a starting position during his junior year, after which he opted to enter the NFL draft.
His story has attracted attention of the media. Legendary Texas sports writer John McClain featured the “fascinating prospect” in a column published during the team’s Organized Team Activities in June.
Warring might be the most athletic of the 11 tight ends the Texans have drafted. He’s 6-5, 255 and runs the 40-yard dash in the 4.6s. He played basketball, soccer, water polo and tennis before trying football his last year in high school.
About his prodigious high school athletics experience, Warring told McLain, “[a]ll those different sports helped me become a better athlete, which converts over to football because you have to be a really good athlete to play football.”
Basketball probably prepared him most for NCAA and professional football, he said. But water polo “helped a ton.”
“It takes athleticism (and) hand-eye coordination, a lot of toughness in the game.
Despite an injury that delayed his training camp until Wednesday he’s already received cautious praise from Head Coach Bill O’Brien, writes McClain:
O’Brien and his coaches like what they’ve seen from Warring during the rookie minicamp and OTAs. As they approach their last week of OTAs and the mandatory minicamp, they’re eager to see more of him.
“(He) comes in early and stays late and learns very well,” O’Brien said. “Very athletic, works hard.”
Called a “water polo castoff” by one writer, Warring now has an opportunity to improve the fortunes of an already successful team, who according to McClain hope that he and two other veterans “will develop into [the Texans’] best group of tight ends during the Bill O’Brien era.”
He is likely to gain his first NFL exhibition experience on August 8th versus the Green Bay Packers.[Updated on August 2, 2019. A incomplete draft version of the story was mistakenly published earlier.]