March 19, 2011

5-star D.J. set to see the Vols

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- The shadow of Charlotte, N. C., offensive tackle D.J. Humphries stretches both far and wide. The talented trenchman is coveted by every major college football program across the nation and he sees this opportunity as a blessing.

"It's going very well," Humphries said of his blossoming recruiting process. "It's a burden every now and again, but you can't really complain. There are thousands of kids who would love to be in the position I'm in. I'm having fun with it and letting it come to me. Just not stressing out about it."

Rivals.com just released its first group of 5-star prospects in the class of 2012. Humphries was on that list and he says that has always been a dream. He wasn't sure if the goal was attainable four or five years ago, but he just pushed himself daily and that dream is now a reality.

"Coming from where I was coming from, it was a goal, but it was far away," Humphries said. "I had it in the back of my mind that I don't think I will be able to make this, but hard work pays off. I work my hardest every day I'm on the field. It paid off."

He understands his rating doesn't make him the next great offensive lineman. It is what it is and that's just a group of stars. Humphries' goals and dreams are much bigger these days and he knows there is a vast difference between good and great.

"I become great by continuing to work hard," Humphries said. "Get stronger every day. Every time I'm on the field, I'm trying to increase foot speed. Get bigger, faster and beat the competition by a mile so when I get to college it will make it an easier transition."

As previously noted, Humphries is being chased by some big-time football programs. Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Auburn, North Carolina and Clemson are the schools standing out to Humphries, with the Gators currently out in front. It's the new staff in Gainesville that has pushed Florida to the top.

"I love the coaches," Humphries said. "They are players' coaches. I know all the coaches are going to put their best recruiting face on for you, but once you get on campus they are going to turn into who they really are. I understand that, but you can tell they are player coaches. That's what I want to be around. I want to be able to go to them when I have a problem."

Tennessee and South Carolina are right behind the reptiles. Humphries is quite fond of the Big Orange and loves the team chemistry in Knoxville.

"I love all the players," Humphries said. "Me and all the players are really cool. I've been up there about three or four times this past summer. And the coaches are great. Me and coach (Terry) Joseph got a real good connection. We talk about once a week. I just love their staff."

Humphries will actually be in Knoxville next weekend. He can't wait to catch up with his friend Ja'Wuan James and he loves the head football coach at Tennessee. He's very impressed by Derek Dooley, who continues to draw great reviews in only his second year on Rocky Top.

"Coach Dooley is a straight-up guy," Humphries said. "You know what you are going to get from him. You can tell he's from the country and you can tell he's going to be hard-nosed about it. That's my guy. That's what I want to be around."

Mallard Creek finished 13-1 last season with its only loss coming in the third round of the North Carolina playoffs to Vance. The Tar Heel State native says he has high hopes for his final year at the prep level.

"I feel like we are going to be better this year than we were last year," Humphries said. "We got so many offensive weapons. We got great coaches and our offensive coordinator is like Dr. Frankenstein. He has mad schemes. I just tell them I'll go out there and run through a brick wall for him. I just tell him to tell me what to do. If he tells me to go out there and block three people then I'm going to go out there and block three people."

The loss to Vance drives Humphries. He remembers what it was like to walk off that field seeing the Cougars celebrating after holding his team to just seven points. He plans on never experiencing that feeling again. The goal is state championship or bust.

"Use that loss as fuel," Humphries said. "I hate the taste I get in my mouth when I lose. I'm competitive in everything I do and I don't like to lose. It's a game that shouldn't have been close. We put up over 40 points on them in the regular season."

Currently Humphries is throwing the shot-put on his high school track team. He won his meet on Thursday with a toss of 47 feet, 8 inches. He has taken over the reins of this team. He is the leader of this group of Mavericks and he knows that it's on him to push the others.

"This is my team," Humphries said. "I've been leading. I've been helping lead in the offensive line since I started my sophomore year. This is my team now. Me and Jela Duncan are taking the team over and putting them on our back. Whatever we have to do to get the job done and win.

"It's different if I know you can't produce versus I just know you're not producing. If I see you out there and you're supposed to be the man and you aren't doing what your are supposed to be doing then I'm going to get in your butt. You are my teammate and we need 100 percent on every play because we all want to win. It doesn't matter if we are winning by 70 points, I'm still giving it my all on every play."

Humphries will graduate from Mallard Creek in December. He plans on making his decision sometime during his senior season or in early December before enrolling in January at the college of his choice.

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