When Texans rookie tight end Kahale Warring was in high school, he made it a point to not limit himself to one sport.
Warring excelled at water polo and basketball, not playing football until his senior year. He was also a member of the cross country, swimming, soccer and tennis teams.
Warring walked on at San Diego State, earning a scholarship. His diverse athletic background paid dividends as he was drafted in the third round with the 86th overall pick Friday night.
“I think water polo helps a lot with your hand-eye coordination and just becoming an overall athlete,” Warring said. “Really, I think basketball is what transitioned the most. I played a ton of different sports in high school at the varsity level. All of that really helped make me a complete athlete. I took away so many different traits from each sport.
“I think basketball transitioned so well just because any time you’re lined up on a defender, similar to giving a guy an inside-out move and then getting past him and finishing at the hoop, just like in football you’re getting past your defender, you’re attacking him, you’re giving him a little move and you’re going up and catching the ball. I think football and basketball go hand-in-hand really well.”
Warring is 6-5, 252 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds. He bench pressed 225 pounds 19 times at the NFL scouting combine and had a 36 1/2 inch vertical leap.
Warring worked out privately for the Texans and visited them, too.
“Best available,” Texans general manager Brian Gaine said. “He’s another player that we got to know, spent a lot of time with here over the winter and here through the spring. He meets our prototypical standards, everything we look for from the physical standpoint and equally from the football character skillset, but a ton of upside here.
“A youthful player as it relates to his football experience, but a ton of upside. He’s been a multi-dimensional athlete (over) his career and we feel like the ceiling is high here. He’ll be a good addition for us both in the classroom, in the locker room, but also on the football field.”
Warring grades out highly for route-running, hands and punch as a blocker after adding 50 pounds since high school.
Warring led San Diego State as an honorable-mention All-Mountain West Conference selection with 31 catches for 372 yards and three touchdowns. He was sidelined for the bowl game due to a hamstring injury. He started just two games last season, playing in a dozen of them overall in a run-first offense.
Why did Warring concentrate on football?
“I’ve always been really curious about the sport,” Warring said. “I always wanted to play. My last chance to try to play the sport was my senior year of high school. My mom never let me play growing up. She said if you really want to play, then you’ll play in high school.
“I finally made the switch my senior year of high school. I really just played to have fun. Had a really fun season, and it wasn’t until later after the season my coaches said that I could play college football if I wanted to. I was excited because I really just fell in love with the sport.”
The biggest aspect of Warring’s game that needs work is his blocking.
“He has a chance to develop in the running game,” Gaine said. “There’s no physical limitation that should limit him in terms of his development in that area, and first and foremost, he’s willing to do it.
“Naturally, he’ll need time and experience on the job, but really there’s no physical part of his game that he should not be able to ascend and develop in that area.”
Warring has caught passes from Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson informally before in the Los Angeles area. Now, they’re teammates.
“I’m thrilled,” Warring said. “I actually got a chance to catch a few passes from him in the past. I think he’s an unbelievable player. I can’t wait to get with him and start working on things. I think he’s such an unbelievable leader.”
After Warring visited the Texans, he remained in Houston for an extra day to attend a Rockets game.
“I actually got a chance to go to a Rockets game when they were making all of those three-point shots,” Warring said. “I got a feel for Houston, and the next day I got to visit the facility and meet all of the coaches.
“So, I already feel like I have a good feel for the city and the organization. They were my No. 1 choice from the get-go.”