- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
HOOVER, Ala. -- Five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey has been without a cell phone for over a month now. While most of his classmates at Hoover High School would be lost without their cell phone, Humphrey has actually embraced not having it. He doesn’t have to deal with the constant phone calls from college coaches and recruiting services every night.
Most believe that’s why he turned his phone off, but in reality, he broke one phone, lost another, and his father Bobby said he’s not getting a new one until the family plan changes next month.
“Looking back, it’s probably one of the better things that’s happened because over the summer when he had a phone, I think that’s when he got a little bit overwhelmed,” Bobby Humphrey said. “So it may be a good thing for him. I guess that’s why he’s been so calm.”
Humphrey has been calm this spring. He hasn’t had to worry about the recruiting process or football in general. He’s been too busy with track and field, and the extra attention has paid dividends.
In the state meet earlier this month, Marlon took home first place and broke state records in both the 110-meter high hurdles and the 300 intermediate hurdles.
“The thing is the kid’s unbelievable in track also,” Hoover football coach Josh Niblett said. “I feel like he’s got a future there, too.”
However, the college coaches who have come by this spring want to see Marlon Humphrey, the football player.
Niblett actually held his star player out of spring practice to give him a break, but that didn’t stop coaches from visiting. Clemson, Florida State, Oregon and nearly every SEC program have all made stops at Hoover this spring.
Now it’s up to Marlon and his family to decide where they want to visit this summer.
“There are some places where he wants to go,” Bobby Humphrey said. “I’m not exactly sure whether he would go or not but Florida, Florida State, South Carolina are some of the places he was trying to go.”
The elephant in the room is still Alabama. Whether he visits there or not, the Crimson Tide will always be in the equation. His father played there in the 80s, the family lives just more than 50 miles from Tuscaloosa, and most people predict that’s where he’ll sign next February.
It’s not that easy, though.
“If he goes to Alabama, he’ll go to Alabama because he feels like that’s the best fit for him,” Niblett said. “He’s not going to go to Alabama just because his dad went there. He’s not going to go to Alabama because everybody wants him to go there. He’s going to go to Alabama if Marlon feels like that is the best opportunity for him.”
With everybody wanting to know what major college football program he’s going to choose, it’s easy to forget that he’s still 16 years old.
“I’ve seen it ruin kids,” Niblett said. “I’ve seen it get to kids to a point where they got to college and it changed, and they wished they could go back and do it all over again or they lost their senior year because they didn’t enjoy it. You don’t ever get that back.
“He’s only going to be a kid one time. Everybody wants him to be 25 years old, making a 25-year-old decision, and he’s 16 years old.”
That’s why a college decision is the last thing Marlon is worried about right now. This summer, he’s looking forward to football camps, 7-on-7 tournaments, and the chance to run in the IAAF World Youth Championships in Ukraine in July.
When he’s ready to make a decision, he’ll make his decision.
“It’s bounced around,” Bobby said. “We talked about this summer, we talked about early in the season, and we’ve talked about the Under Armour game. I hadn’t really put any pressure on him. I told him not to have any pressure on him. When he’s ready to say something, he will.
“If I feel like things are bothering him, his performance, his day-to-day activities and he’s being pressured, then I think we will move quickly. But we’re really not in a hurry to do anything.”
For now, Marlon will continue to enjoy his break without football, without track and without a cell phone.
11hCFB Vegas Experts
17hAlex Scarborough and Jesse Temple