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D.J. Humphries ready to end the process

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- D.J. Humphries had all the leverage.

So when the nation's No. 1 offensive tackle and No. 7 overall prospect recently decided to go under the radar for almost a month, he was able to pull it off without losing one iota of interest from college coaches.

No emails. No Facebook messages. And no phone calls.

"It was just starting to be where it wasn't fun anymore so I had to step back where I could be a kid and have fun," said the five-star recruit from Charlotte Mallard Creek. "It was just straight football. It definitely helped."

Humphries, 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, has a clearer head now and is ready to announce his decision at his his high school at 7 p.m. tonight. Humphries will decide between Florida, Tennessee, Auburn, Clemson and South Carolina. Most feel that the Gators and Vols are in the lead, with Florida the favorite.

Humphries' coach, Michael Palmieri, has coached plenty of Division I football prospects, but this is something altogether different.

"He's by far the most I've gotten," Palmieri said.

Palmieri noticed the recruiting process was stressing out his star pupil, who hasn't given up a sack in two seasons and posted over 100 pancake blocks as a junior in 2010.

"When you're getting that many calls, it can get frustrating," Palmieri said. "There was a point that we had to pull back a little bit. I think it was the right thing for him to do at the time to help him make the right decision."

Clearly, this is not just a decision about school or football for Humphries; this is a decision about life. Ask him what he looks for in a school and he sees a bigger picture than just looking at the athletic facilities or the training table.

"Somewhere where I could see myself, not just for the next three or four years but where I could start a family in that town," Humphries said. "Somewhere that feels like home. Somewhere that I know the coaches are going to shoot me straight and not beat around the bush with me."

Soon, Humphries will have to disappoint a lot of coaches. That won't be anything new for the soft-spoken, seemingly humble prospect. He's had to reluctantly deliver bad news to coaches before.

"I hear from at least 10 every day: Facebook, email," he said. "In some sense you try to be nice to every one of them because you don't want to be the kid that's blowing everybody off. But it got to a point where I had to start telling coaches 'I appreciate the opportunity, but I'm just not interested.'"

Humphries said that despite his announcement he might take some official visits to faraway schools he couldn't get to before. California and Texas are possibilities. He also added that Alabama is a "sleeper" school worth watching outside his top five.

However, that doesn't mean Humphries is playing the game or enjoying the attention.

"Tired of the process," he said. "I feel like the top five I have, if I pick any one of those I'll make a good decision."

Dave Hooker covers Southeast and Atlantic Coast recruiting. He has covered recruiting and college football for more than a decade. Email him at davehookerespn@gmail.com.