A sense of achievement comes when one does a task consistently; however, taking pride in that occupation does not come until one learns how to execute it properly. Alabama’s redshirt freshman cornerback Marlon Humphrey is a prime example of an individual that finds success in applying what one has learned. He recorded his first career interception last week.
Humphrey, a native of Hoover, Ala., was one of two five-star cornerbacks (Tony Brown) that enrolled at Alabama in 2014. The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Humphrey seemed promising in the Crimson Tide’s 2015 spring game, totaling eight tackles with an interception. He’s never had a problem with speed, ball skills and technique, but facing the ball was a looming issue.
Humphrey would establish position against Wisconsin and Ole Miss, but failed to turn his head in playing the ball. This resulted in completions for opposing quarterbacks, and at times, Humphrey would get flagged for pass interference fouls. He was an early target for Georgia’s quarterback Greyson Lambert, as Humphrey was matched up on receiver Malcolm Mitchell.
The two battled throughout the game, but in the third quarter something clicked for Humphrey.
Georgia replaced Lambert with backup quarterback Brice Ramsey, in an attempt to generate some offense. Ramsey was victimized earlier by Crimson Tide safety Eddie Jackson on a 50-yard interception return for a touchdown. Ramsey targeted Jackson Harris on a third down play with a pass down the right sideline. Humphrey stayed in his hip pocket, establishing position inside. He got a crucial block on Jackson’s touchdown, and Jackson returned the favor. He begins to scream at Humphrey as the ball is in the air.
His motions went unnoticed on the first two attempts, yet Humphrey locked in on the final one. He turned, faced the ball and brought it in for the team’s second interception of the game.
Listed below is a video of Humphrey’s interception, courtesy of Saturday Down South.
Jackson, as any other upperclassman, was overjoyed.
He ran to Humphrey, embraced him and gave him the “Ball Out” belt. Establish position, take the angle away, turn to the ball and create turnovers. All four are concepts taught in practice every day by Alabama head coach Nick Saban and first-year defensive backs coach Mel Tucker. Humphrey made both men proud last week against the Bulldogs.
He has 19 total tackles, including 2.5 for loss this season. Humphrey also chimes in with two pass breakups and a forced fumble through five games to along with his interception.
Alabama’s secondary is young, but greatness lies ahead if others like Humphrey continue to work, listen and apply what has been taught in practice on the field.
Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.