It’s not often that Arizona State is able to pluck one of the more highly rated players out of the Pacific Northwest but that’s exactly what it did by landing defensive lineman Connor Humphreys on signing day back in February. Humphreys starred at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Oregon where as senior he helped lead the Rams to a perfect 14-0 record and a coveted state championship win.
As a junior, the lineman collected 74 total tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and six sacks while being ranked as the 73rd overall best prospect and fifth best defensive tackle in the West region by Scout.com. Humphreys followed up his breakout campaign last season by recording 43 total tackles, seven tackles for a loss, five sacks, and four fumble recoveries en route to Central Catholic’s first state championship win since 1953 while also being named a Second Team All-American by USA Today.
While Humphreys received scholarship offers from more than 15 schools, including most of the Pac-12; he always kept two, Oregon State and Arizona State, ahead of the others.
“When it came down to making a decision, I liked Arizona State and Oregon State, but I just thought Arizona State was the best place for me to be successful academically, athletically, and socially,” he said. “Coach Shipp sat me down and asked me what I wanted out of a defense and where I thought I was going to be in a defense. He explained to me that everything I wanted was here at ASU.
“It’s that attacking defense and to be able to move around on the defensive line and get in the backfield and cause havoc for the quarterback. That’s my type of defense and I think I’ll fit in well with the type of defensive scheme that Coach Graham runs.”
Humphreys put an end to the recruiting suspense by announcing his commitment to Arizona State last August in front of a small crowd at a local Buffalo Wild Wings where both he and his sister worked all throughout high school while balancing the demands of being a high school student-athlete.
“I just wanted to make sure that throughout my senior year I could focus on the season itself and winning the state championship which my team set as a high goal for them,” he said. “I wanted to get it out of the way so I could focus on the season and just in case if I did get an injury I’d already be committed to a school and the school would already be committed to me. That was something that I talked to Coach Graham about and he said that if I got injured I would still have a scholarship.
“It was always my plan to commit before the season. I set the date for August 17th and I remember that day vividly. It was a huge day for me when I committed and it was a great decision.”
While Humphreys’ pledge to the Sun Devils may have signaled the end of his recruitment for him, the lineman said he still felt some pressure to stay close to home from others and even received some last minute interest from another conference foe who tried to get into the picture late in the process.
“Oregon recruits weird. They only offered a couple kids in the state of Oregon,” Humphreys said. “When I was actually on my official (visit) to ASU in January, I got a message over Facebook saying, ‘Hey Connor, we have a scholarship available. Would you be interested?’ But at that time I was already committed to ASU, so I said, ‘Hey I’m committed. I’m not interested.’”
Humphreys was one of three freshmen who play defensive line that ASU added in 2014, along with Tashon Smallwood and Renell Wren, providing the Sun Devils with a talented core to build around for the future. However, for all three linemen, the future may be fast approaching.
Humphreys arrived on campus last month, just one week after Central Catholic’s graduation, giving him very little time to adjust before beginning summer school and offseason workouts at ASU.
At 6-4 and 273 pounds, Humphreys says that he’s been learning the roles of nose guard and the 3- technique defensive tackle positions while also working out with Strength and Conditioning Coach Shawn Griswold in an effort to beef up before the start of fall camp next month.
“They want me around 275 for camp and 285 for the season,” he said. “I feel like I can handle the weight. With our running and stuff, I’m still keeping my speed and with good strength conditioning I’m still making all my times. I feel like I can gain more weight and hopefully by the season be 280 just for some more strength and some more beef so that I can stop the runs down the side.”
Arizona State returns veterans Marcus Hardison, Jaxon Hood, and Mo Latu in 2014, but speculation remains as to who will fill out the two-deep depth chart or even start for the Sun Devils when the season finally kicks off against Weber State on August 28th.
It’s that potential opportunity to play significant minutes as a freshman that fuels Humphreys as fall camp draws near.
“I’m definitely excited to put the pads on,” he said. “Every workout I keep that in back of my mind, saying ‘Hey, I can play this year. I can start this year. Go hard every rep and just push even more.’
“I’m going in with the mindset of, ‘Hey, I’m going to compete for a job no matter who comes in and tries to compete.’ It’s going to push me throughout camp and hopefully come that first game I’ll be playing.”
Click here for Humphreys’ highlights.
A major area of concern for the Sun Devils in 2014 lies on the defensive side of the ball where they’ll look to replace nine starters, including all four defensive linemen from a unit that ranked as one of the tops in the conference last season. ASU secured commitments from three talented freshmen who will be counted on to contribute this fall, including All-American Connor Humphreys.