November 18, 2009

Senior sleeper bursts onto the scene

You haven't heard of Eric Humphrey, but you will.

The 6-foot-4, 275-pound defensive tackle out of Dallas (Texas) Parish Episcopal has had a monster senior season. Through 11 games he has had 77 total tackles, 18 sacks, 27 tackles for loss, six forced fumbles, one interception and three defensive touchdowns. Humphrey has also played a dominating role on the offensive side of the ball.

Don't feel bad if you don't recognize the name though. Up until very recently college coaches had no idea who he was either. Then Humphrey's senior film was released. Parish Episcopal head coach Scott Nady has been dealing with the aftermath.


"That film only hit the street probably about five days ago and it's like a hydrogen bomb went off," Nady said. "Florida State is flying down this Saturday, Nebraska is coming, Arkansas, Oregon, UCLA are all interested. I've had a lot of good kids but the last few days have been like nothing I've ever seen."

Not only has interest arrived, but so have the offers.

"He has offers from Baylor, Colorado, Kansas, Miami-Ohio, I think Clemson is going to offer and Florida State has said that if he's as big as I say he is then they plan on offering."

In the fast paced world of recruiting, a player's junior season is becoming increasingly crucial to the level of his exposure. By the time senior film comes out on most players, college coaches have already made their judgment on their abilities. Humphrey wasn't active on the camp circuit, didn't distribute junior film and plays in the small private school classification in Texas.

All those factors played big roles in Humphrey's anonymity among the top prospects in Texas and the nation. As a late bloomer though, Humphrey has exploded onto the scene in a big way and is one of the rare senior finds that college coaches will take a hard look at.

"I knew he had the tools and I knew if it clicked for him that he could be a big time player," Nady said. "He had the tools to be a Saturday player and if it came together he could be a Sunday player. I try my best to 100 percent guarantee that my kid can do it if I say he can do it. I purposely held the film back to make sure he had all the games together to show a full body of work.

"He put on 35 pounds from last year to this year. His sophomore year he played ok. His junior he played good at times and then this year he just got used to his new body and he's become dominant."

That development over the offseason between his junior and senior seasons left little doubt in Nady's mind that once word hit of his ability, Humphrey would be a popular prospect.

"Oh yeah, I knew there would be attention," he said. "I've got several very good friends in college football and I called them a few days prior to sending it out. He's 272 pounds and he's running away from running backs. There's just not a lot of 3-techniques that can do what he can do in the country."

Even Humphrey himself hasn't been surprised by his sudden success. His hard work in the offseason set him up for what has become a dominating senior year.

"I did work hard to get to where I am so I was expecting it," Humphrey said. "It was just maturity. I had to grow up and accept the responsibility as a senior."

After an offseason that saw Humphrey gain 35 pounds and continue to develop footspeed and quickness, the 275-pounder has certainly worked for his success. The new body took some getting used to but Humphrey quickly realized that it may be pointing him towards a college scholarship.

"I guess this year is when it clicked," he said. "After my first game of my senior year it just settled in that I could actually do it. The new weight took a lot of getting used to but I had to work with my coach. I had a strength and conditioning coach and he really helped with my speed."

With his team entering the second round of the playoffs, Humphrey suddenly has plenty to think about. Already he has fielded calls from coaches at Clemson, Arkansas, Baylor, Colorado, Troy, Southern Illinois, Miami-Ohio, Florida State, Arkansas and others.

Along with the offers that have come in, Humphrey also has three official visits now scheduled. He will be at Kansas the weekend of Dec. 11, Baylor the weekend of Dec. 4, and an official visit to Arkansas yet to be set.

"It's been just happening so fast, I'm still trying to get used to it. It's all very unexpected."

Humphrey didn't grow up a fan of any one team in particular and just watched whoever was playing the best at the time. Couple that with the late start to his recruitment and the big athletic lineman is about as open as it gets to the recruiting process. With film that speaks for itself, and has spoken loudly in only a matter of days, college coaches now know his name and college football fans may need to remember it.




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