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June 17, 2013
Marlon Humphrey does not say much about recruiting -- and that's part of the appeal.
The Hoover, Ala., five-star cornerback, who looked great at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour last week, has a famous father, Bobby, who played at Alabama, so he's been tied to the Crimson Tide since birth.
The predictions are all in that Humphrey will follow his father's footsteps to Tuscaloosa. He's good enough to command early playing time, and he speaks highly of Alabama. So why doesn't he just commit and get it over with?
Because, as he showed last week at Soldier Field, Humphrey sets his own way, will do things on his own time, and a commitment to any school probably is not coming for a while.
"I'm kind of just chilling with recruiting," Humphrey said.
"This summer has actually been pretty fine. Not too many guys have been bothering me too much. I'm kind of just enjoying it right now, and they're letting me sit back and think about what I want to do."
College coaches aren't naive. They realize Alabama has to be considered the heavy favorite, and some have even let Humphrey know it. Still, the 6-foot, 168-pound five-star wants to keep recruiting open. He said no pledge will be made until he can take official visits.
"Some schools come in; some schools even talk about Alabama," Humphrey said. "They just say, 'I know everyone thinks you're a Bama lock,' stuff like that."
Humphrey, rated as the third-best cornerback and the No. 11 prospect overall in the 2014 class by Rivals.com, said he wants to unofficially visit South Carolina and Florida State and possibly Mississippi State this summer. Because Alabama -- ahem -- is so close, another trip there could happen, too.
The Crimson Tide looks good, but those coaches have not backed off one bit. Alabama keeps coming after Humphrey, trying to lock up that important commitment. It does not seem to be taking Humphrey's commitment for granted.
"They've been pretty intense," Humphrey said. "You would think they'd chill and not say much, but they're actually one of the top schools recruiting me the hardest. I'm pretty sure they want me pretty bad."
Getting to South Carolina might be tough because of distance, but the others should be fine and that might influence Humphrey's thinking leading into the fall.
"I have football in the mornings and track in the afternoons, so I can't make that six-hour drive down and back [to South Carolina]. I might make it to FSU because that's a little closer and maybe Mississippi State. Alabama is right down the road, so I'm sure I'll go there at least once."
After the summer, official visits will be the next step. The Hoover standout said trips to Alabama, South Carolina and Florida State are certain. He could also visit Mississippi State and Oregon.
"I'm definitely doing all my officials," Humphrey said. "I'll still be uncommitted by then."
Whichever program lands Humphrey, it will be getting a potential superstar.
He was outstanding throughout the Five-Star Challenge, a lockdown corner who didn't say much but made plays, knocked down passes, was aggressive all over the field and hardly ever got beaten, even in one-on-one coverage.
While the odds may be in Alabama's favor, Humphrey is the type of talent not to give up on until Signing Day.
"Humphrey played great, actually to my expectations exactly," Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said after the Five-Star Challenge. "I expected to see a long, physical corner who can play off as well as tight to the line, who keeps his hips open until he needs to commit and has good recovery speed.
"He uses his length to his advantage, he can turn and run, and he's a cocky kid. He has that swagger needed. He was our defensive skill MVP for a reason, and he acted like he knew he was going to win it the moment he got onto the field. That's an important trait for a cornerback, and I think he can be left on an island and shut down one half of the field."
Humphrey has a quiet confidence -- on and off the field. His dad was a star at Alabama, and his brother played football at Arkansas. He's a gold medal winner in the Junior Olympics. He's smooth and confident and cool.
As far as recruiting, though, Humphrey doesn't like to talk.
"I'm kind of a quiet guy," Humphrey said. "I keep everything to myself, including my recruiting stuff."
That's fine. Everything might have been said already. If he ends up anywhere other than Tuscaloosa, that would speak volumes.