Kahale Warring was surrounded by about 70 people at an NFL Draft party in San Diego Friday evening when his phone rang.
General Manager of the Houston Texans, Brian Gaine, was on the other end of the line.
“I didn’t know exactly who it was,” said Warring, 22, speaking on Monday from his family home in Sonora. “It wasn't until the G.M. said it was him and asked if I was ready to become a Houston Texan that I knew.”
Warring spent a few minutes speaking to Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien and some others in the organization.
The party erupted in celebration when they saw former NFL quarterback T.J. Yates on TV make the pick official — Kahale Warring, a tight end from San Diego State University and Sonora High School, was selected by the Houston Texans as the 86th overall pick in Round 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft.
“I’m ecstatic. I think it's a perfect fit. I’m just excited to get to work,” Warring said.
Warring’s selection came around the time he and his family expected, on the second day of the draft. At 6 feet 5 inches tall and 252 pounds, Warring ranked among the top five tight ends in four out of seven scored events at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis from Feb. 28 through March 3.
“We couldn't be happier with the Texans. That was for sure one of his favorite spots,” said Warring’s mother, Nichole Longeway. “I think it's going to be a really good fit.”
In the NFL broadcast of the draft, the commentators touted Warring as a relative newcomer to football and a work in progress with massive game-play potential.
“Not many times you draft a player with a big time water polo background, but that’s what you get with Kahale Warring. He’s got ridiculous height, weight, speed combination,” the NFL announcer said, while the screen cycled through a highlight reel of Warring’s college career.
Warring was famously a multi-sport high school athlete in Sonora and didn’t join the football team until his senior year.
The team went on to the 2014 CIF Sac-Joaquin section finals and Warring was awarded a scholarship at SDSU before the 2017 season after redshirting with the team. SDSU is a NCAA Division 1 school in the Mountain West Conference.
“Throughout this whole process, you just go step by step. It's one thing after the other and you have this surreal sense of what’s going on. I'm not sure that's even kicked in, this is real,” Longeway said.
Warring said he will fly to Houston on May 9 for the rookie mini-camp.
“I’m kind of just taking it day by day,” Warring said. “My goal is just to go in and earn the respect and trust of my teammates and my coaching staff.”
Warring visited the Texans facility once before the draft and said he was impressed with the team and the coaches.
In the meantime, Warring is still keeping up his training almost every day. On Monday afternoon, he ran a stair workout in the stands of Dunlavy Field.
“I don't even know how to explain it. It's just a feeling you can’t really explain. It's something I've worked on my whole life and it's just a start. It's an opportunity, and I’m here to take full advantage of it.”
Warring is the first Sonora High School graduate to be drafted into the NFL out of college. Another Sonora NFL player, Josh Parry, was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004 when they lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Parry was undrafted out of San Jose State and signed with several teams before being switched from linebacker to a fullback position.
Longeway said their family was eager to see what was next for Warring, but they were still enjoying the moment day to day.
“We just wanted him to be in the best place for him to be the best player he can be,” Longeway said. “We’re super excited for him to be with the Texans. And the colors aren’t bad either.”