October 28, 2011

Interest growing in Tide legacy

HOOVER | It's not every day a sophomore starts for the Hoover football team, but cornerback Marlon Humphrey is no ordinary sophomore.

Humphrey, the son of Alabama legend Bobby Humphrey, has started every game for the Bucs this year, and he made his presence felt again on Thursday with a kickoff return for a touchdown in Hoover's 41-13 win over Bob Jones in the regular-season finale.

"We haven't been getting many opportunities all year, and we got an opportunity," Humphrey said. "(Nigel) Cribbs had a great block on the edge, and it was all good from there. Coach told us 'wefense' was a big part of the game, which is special teams, and we executed."

In the season opener, the 2014 prospect exploded on the scene with an interception and a blocked punt against powerhouse South Panola on national TV. He followed that up with an interception return for a touchdown the following week against rival Spain Park.

"He understands that we don't have a whole lot of sophomores here play a whole lot, and for a guy to get on the field and start is big for him," Hoover coach Josh Niblett said. "He's a fantastic player. We just got to have him continue to make some plays."

With the year he's having, it's no surprise that Humphrey is already beginning to receive interest from the likes of Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State. It won't be long before more schools begin to enter the mix.

At this stage, it's too early to name any favorites, but the family ties to Alabama may give the Crimson Tide a slight edge in his recruitment.

"I don't really have any favorites right now," Humphrey said. "I like the tradition at Alabama. My dad played there, and he has good things to say. I grew up as an Alabama fan and went to a lot of their games."

The 6-foot, 168-pound cornerback visited Tuscaloosa this month for the Vanderbilt game and kept a close eye on Crimson Tide defensive backs Dre Kirkpatrick and Dee Milliner.

Humphrey's combination of size and speed have led many to make the comparison to Kirkpatrick, who could be a potential first-round draft pick in next April's draft.

"It's a big comparison, but I guess I'm going to try my best to get more like him," Humphrey said.

His coach at Hoover believes his size and physical play are what sets him apart and make him such an attractive prospect at the next level.

"His height and the physicality of how he plays is a college coach's dream as far as getting a cornerback nowadays," Niblett said. "Like the Patrick Petersons and Dre Kirkpatricks and those kind of guys that have a little size to them because now it's become a physical football game out on the perimeter in college.

"The thing I talk to Marlon all the time about is, 'The sky's the limit, so you have to stay hungry.' The more he stays hungry, the better he's going to be. You haven't even seen how good he's going to be."

For now, Humphrey is focusing on Hoover's first-round playoff game next Friday against Hewitt-Trussville. A could lead to a rematch of Thursday's contest with Bob Jones.

The in-state star is also excited to return to Alabama next weekend for the LSU game.

"It's going to be a big game," Humphrey said. "Hopefully, it will be a good one. I think I'm going to have to go with Alabama to win."

Reach Greg Ostendorf at [email protected]

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