Name: D.J. Humphries
High School: Mallard Creek (Charlotte, NC)
Status: Verbally committed to Florida
On Friday, Florida received big news in more ways than one when D.J. Humphries announced his intentions to become a Gator. The 6’5", 265-pound tackle from Mallard Creek (Charlotte, NC) committed to Florida over Tennessee and Auburn, giving the Gators one of the nation’s best prospects at any position. Rivals lists Humphries as the top offensive tackle and the No. 3 player overall. Scout has him a little farther down both lists as the No. 5 tackle and no. 17 recruit overall. And finally, ESPN believes Humphries is the country’s best tackle and No. 7 overall prospect. Just know this: Humphries is very good and widely believed to be. There’s no arguing that.
What makes a great offensive lineman great and a bad offensive lineman bad? We could probably create a list a mile long of the attributes a great lineman needs to have and the bad habits an ineffective lineman exhibits. Let’s not do that. Let’s cut it down to something simpler for now, something that anyone can see just by watching a few minutes of highlights of the newest Gator.
Play to the whistle. Play to the whistle. PLAY TO THE WHISTLE. You’ve heard it a million times, and more than a few hundred from former Florida head coach Urban Meyer. Four to six seconds: the time it takes for an entire play from start to finish. You have to play hard for those four to six seconds. Regardless of what your assignment may be or where you are on the field, you have to play to the whistle.
D.J. Humphries plays to the whistle.
We’ve discussed this in the past, but high school players with Humphries’ talent can get bored in games. They take plays off because they’re clearly the most talented players on the field and it becomes easy for them. There are a few names I could throw at you that committed to the Gators, came to Florida, and flamed out rather quickly that fall under this umbrella. (I won’t. You already know who they are.) Humphries isn’t one of them. Watch clips of him destroy a defensive end off the line and you'll see he’s immediately looking to the next level. He finishes off the end and wants to find a linebacker to block. Humphries plays the four to six seconds ... then he plays the seventh and sometimes the eighth.
Humphries quickly finishes off his first assignment. It’s rarely a battle. He takes the rusher to the ground or puts him out of the play entirely. There are plenty of plays where the ball carrier will come around behind the left tackle, but still get taken down by the defender the tackle is blocking; that’s because the tackle hasn’t taken his assignment out of the play. That’s not the case with Humphries. By the time the ball carrier gets to Humphries’ general area, the defender is either on the ground or pushed five yards out of the way, completely unable to make a play.
While Humphries is equally important in the pass game, his ability to clear out would-be tacklers in the run game might be the more impressive thing about him. He’ll be an asset to the Gators in all aspects of the offense, but should become a force in the run game for many years, starting in 2012. Expect Humphries to compete for playing time almost immediately upon his arrival, which he hopes will be as a January early enrollment.