D.J. Humphries hungry to succeed

SAN ANTONIO -- D.J. Humphries was a self-proclaimed troublemaker when he was a first grader back in Union, S.C.

There was this time when one of his classmates had an asthma attack in class, so his teacher walked the student down to the nurses room.

"While they were gone I ate the teacher's lunch," said Humphries, recalling the incident as if it had just happened. "She had a peanut butter sandwich, some crackers and an apple."

As Humphries tells it, there was another big guy in the class who could have been viewed as the culprit. Problem was, that kid was allergic to peanut butter and the teacher knew so.

"So I got caught," said Humphries, shaking his head. "That's just the type of stuff I used to do. Nothing crazy. I bring my own lunch money now."

And nobody's going to steal it from him.

Not from the grasp of someone who stands 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, and is regarded as the top offensive tackle in the nation.

After lining up at left tackle for the East squad of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, he'll fly to Jacksonville on Monday and immediately make his way down to Gainesville, Fla. to begin what should be a prosperous career as a multi-year starter for the Gators.

Humphries, the No. 8 overall player in the ESPNU 150 and Anthony Munoz Lineman of the Year, had a smorgasbord of scholarship offers and could have virtually named where he wanted to go to college. But there was just something about Florida -- Gainesville, his future teammates, the Gators honesty -- that had him hooked.

"Florida is the only place that felt like home," Humphries said. "I felt like they never tried to sell me. They always stayed true to me from the jump. The guys that are there now I feel like I can relate with them. It is a good fit for me personality wise and I love the town."

Humphries doesn't foresee having any problems getting acclimated to the life of a college student-athlete either.

"I am not a homebody that is going to get homesick," he said. "I am excited to see how I will react going into a new experience like this. I can take care of myself on my own. I can cook and am pretty responsible with my time."

One reason he feels comfortable is the fact that he already experienced a little of the college life with his father Dierrias, also known as D.J. Sr.

Dierrias had D.J. when he was only 15, and he would stay with his father on campus during the summer. Granted he was just a little kid, and not even to the age of stealing peanut butter sandwiches yet.

"I think it helped me a lot with what I am going through right now," D.J. said.

Dierrias was a standout athlete in his own right. At 6-foot-5, he was an all-state selection in both football and basketball at Union High and had the option of playing either sport in college.

He ultimately decided to play basketball at Presbyterian, over football offers from programs in the Atlantic Coast Conference, because of its proximity to Union where D.J. lived with his mother and grandmother.

During his final year at Presbyterian, Dierrias gave football a go and set program single-season records for receptions (95) and receiving yards (1,340), and scored 14 touchdowns. That led to a free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens, which lasted until the end of his first training camp.

So it's easy to see where D.J. gets his athleticism from, and his competitive spirit.

Ask the younger D.J. who the better athlete is and he'll give himself the nod without any hesitation.

"I am absolutely the best athlete. Hands down," he said. "We settled this the other day. We went and took swimming lessons and I was the better swimmer. He could beat me in basketball. He could beat me in baseball. He can't beat me in football. But swimming, I felt like that was foreign soil for both of us. It wasn't on grass, or wood. It was neutral site and I beat him bad.

"Our swimming coach kept giving me kudos and 'attaboys.' He was doing everything wrong. I was killing him."

The elder Humphries might have some trouble containing his son out wide too. D.J. showed off the athleticism that made him such a commodity at bowl practice on Thursday, effortlessly getting by other linemen in a bit of linemen 7-on-7.

"I could play out there if I wanted to," Humphries deadpanned. "I was wide open on a post. It was a reverse pass and [the lineman] couldn't get the ball to me. If [LSU quarterback commitment] Gunner [Kiel] would have been out there I would have caught the ball. And I would have dunked it in the end zone."

Anyone who has seen Humphries knows he wouldn't have any problem doing that. For as big as he is, he's extremely fit.

"I feel like the way the sport is transitioning right now, I feel like it is a big deal to be fit," he said. "I feel like I could be 300 pounds. But there is no reason for me to have a lot of fat and be sloppy. Me personally I don't like feeling sloppy and fat. So I like to keep myself tone."

Humphries stays tone by working out with a personal trainer four times a week, all in preparation for what's to come beginning Monday.

He's also done it by cutting back on peanut butter sandwiches that aren't his.

William Wilkerson covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation.