Christopher Smith

Top Recruit Marlon Humphrey: Bama Or FSU?

Created on Jan. 29, 2014 5:43 PM EST

One of the most heralded recruits not yet committed is cornerback Marlon Humphrey of Hoover, Ala.

Humphrey, 6-foot and 179 pounds, has played his recruiting close to the vest, allowing that Alabama and Florida State are his top two schools, but offering few hints as to which is the favorite to land his services.

According to a report on, Humphrey is set to announce his decision on Feb. 5, but the five-star prospect won't appear on TV, instead attempting to blend in with the rest of Hoover's few dozen athletes expected to sign with Division I programs.

“We are trying to make this as normal as it has always been,” Hoover athletic director Myra Miles told “He wants this day to be about everybody here at Hoover and not just himself.”

Humphrey helped the Bucs to a 15-0 season and No. 5 national ranking according to USA Today. His father, Bobby Humphrey, was a first-round pick out of Alabama, made the Pro Bowl in one of his five seasons as an NFL running back and coached the Birmingham Steeldogs, an AF2 team, from 2000-05.

Jeremy Pruitt, a former Hoover High assistant, was Florida State's defensive coordinator and a lead recruiter for the school before leaving for Georgia this offseason.

But Humphrey has made it clear to those around him that where his father did or did not attend school will not affect his decision.

“In our society today, he’s kind of a true man,” Hoover coach Josh Niblett told ESPN. “He’s a true guy’s guy. He knows what makes him happy. He knows what makes him tick. He knows what makes him go. He knows what makes him want to compete harder. And there’s a lot of people in this world who don’t know that.

“He’s not going to go somewhere where somebody says, ‘Hey, this is where you need to go or this is where your dad went to school or your dad didn’t go to school there.’ He’s going to go where he best feels like he fits what’s going on and where he can best be an asset to the program.” 

With his pedigree and strong ranking by recruiting sites, you'd expect the decision to only involve football, but Humphrey also is a world-class high school track and field athlete. He skipped last year's Alabama and Florida State spring games in favor of playing video games, and missed an elite football camp this summer in favor of the IAAF World Youth Championships in Ukraine, finishing second in the world in the 110-meter hurdles.

Track figures to be a bigger part of his decision than many people realize, as Humphrey already has been identified as a potential Olympian in the 400-meter hurdles and probably is the No. 1 high school hurdler in the United States. His reported 4.48 40-yard dash time is fast, not otherworldly, but his track times at slightly longer distances indicate speed endurance that will serve him well in four-quarter SEC or ACC nailbiters.

Another five-star cornerback, Tony Brown, already has enrolled at Alabama and is competing for the Tide's track team.

Alabama's secondary struggled in 2013, an unusual attribute for a Nick Saban-led defense. Given the home crowd, which would love to see him stay in the state for both football and track, and his father's revered status as an Alabama running back, it's difficult to picture him headed South to Florida State, but all reports indicate the Seminoles remain a viable option.

The Tide rake in several five-star recruits per year under Saban, but Humphrey has a chance to be a building block of a championship defense. Saban is a renowned developer of defensive backs, '13 aside. It's never easy to predict the outcome for a 17-year-old, but it's not far-fetched for Humphrey to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2016 while becoming a coveted NFL prospect the same year.

The only question is, will Tuscaloosa or Tallahassee be the incubator of his potential?

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