Cardinals’ 1st-round pick credits young father’s lead
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — In many ways, D.J. Humphries and his father grew up together.
Derrias Humphries was 15 when his son was born. Humphries didn’t desert his child. Quite the opposite. He instilled a discipline that kept his son out of trouble and on the path to the NFL.
The Arizona Cardinals made the 6-foot-5, 325-pound offensive tackle the 24th overall pick in the draft Thursday night, and he was introduced at a news conference at Cardinals headquarters Friday. Afterward, he talked about his father’s tough love.
“I think it was because he was so young, a lot of stuff, he didn’t know any better,” Humphries said. “Crack the whip, that was his answer to a lot of stuff. I feel like it made me who I am today, but he was definitely hard on me.”
Asked what would have become of him had his father not stayed with him, the son said, “there’s no telling. I’d probably be somewhere like prison or the corner somewhere doing something illegal, doing something I shouldn’t be doing. I’m super excited to have him in my life now.”
Humphries’ mom was 16 when he was born and he lived with her most of the time until he was 12, when he moved from his small hometown of Union, South Carolina, to live with his father in Charlotte, North Carolina. By the time he graduated from high school, D.J. was one of the most-recruited players in the country.
He chose Florida, but neither he nor the Gators had the level of success that many expected. Still, Humphries disregarded the advice of the NFL Junior Advisory Committee and entered the draft after three years in college.
“I definitely could say I feel like some things I wanted to do weren’t accomplished (in college),” Humphries said, “but I feel like that’s what I have this next step for. I never won a championship in high school and I never have won in college. Now I have the opportunity to really work toward a Super Bowl, especially playing on a playoff team.”
He knew he had to gain weight to play tackle in the NFL. He said he gained 25 pounds the right way.
“When I went into training I think I was 290 (pounds), 26 percent body fat. When I left I was 305, 17 percent body fat. It changed my body completely,” Humphries said. ’I learned a lot of good habits from training. I’m pretty excited to keep eating.”
He said he had never been west of Texas before his earlier visit to the Cardinals.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen mountains with no trees on them,” he said.
Humphries brings a personality as big as he is. That comes from his upbringing and the family around him, he said.
“I guess my immediate family has big personality, from my dad to my mom, my stepmom, all my siblings, even my little baby brother,” Humphries said. “He’s four months old and he’s got the most personality out of all of us.”
Humphries said his father “always told me when I was a kid if you be yourself, then people are going to love you. Everybody else is trying to be somebody else, they’re trying to be somebody they look up to, they’re trying to be one of their friends. If you be yourself, everybody is going to love you.”
Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said he had Humphries as his highest-rated tackle in the draft.
“We saw the athletics. Obviously, you guys see the size, and the personality fits in as well, so he’s going to fit in nicely” Goodwin said. ”... Any football team, the good ones, they have a great offensive line, and that’s what we’re striving for.”
With Jared Veldheer entrenched at left tackle, Humphries will compete with Bobby Massie on the right side.
“Like I was telling coach (Bruce Arians) last night, I don’t really know how to ride the bench,” Humphries said. “I never rode the bench in high school, didn’t ride it in college, so I’m ready to learn on the fly. Everything I’m ready to learn it. I’m ready to come in and make an immediate impact, that’s for sure.”