When John Humphreys stepped between the lines for the Corona del Mar High varsity football team for the first time in October 2016, many could have projected that he had a future in the sport.
The numbers did not jump out at that point, but one fact did. Humphreys was the only freshman to receive targets in the offense.
After getting his feet wet during the Pacific Coast League, Humphreys validated his promotion from the freshmen squad during the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.
In the semifinals against Lompoc, he had eight receptions for 94 yards and his first touchdown. In the finals versus Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, he had six catches for 63 yards while again scoring a touchdown.
Last season, Humphreys led the Sea Kings in receiving yards (1,100) and touchdowns (16), while playing wide receiver opposite of TaeVeon Le (preferred walk-on at Stanford).
The elite physical gifts were there from the beginning, with Humphreys thriving in jump-ball situations thanks to his 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame.
Humphreys did not become satisfied with his vertical advantage. A commitment to adding to his already substantial athleticism has seen Humphreys earn significant gains, both in stature and status.
College recruiters have taken notice of the work that Humphreys has done off the field. Humphreys has 10 offers to his credit. The Pac-12 has jumped in early, with Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, USC and Utah showing interest.
The other offers have come from Duke, San Diego State and Yale.
“I’m honored and super-excited for those ones and all the offers I’ve been receiving,” Humphreys said of recently getting offers from Stanford and USC. “I’m excited for the future.”
A rising junior, Humphreys has played wide receiver and free safety throughout his career with the Sea Kings. He said that colleges have taken a look at him on both sides of the ball.
Those who have looked at Humphreys from a defensive standpoint have discussed the possibility of him moving to strong safety or outside linebacker. With two years of high school remaining, there is no telling where Humphreys’ body will fill out to.
Sea Kings coach Dan O’Shea believes that strength and conditioning coach Tony Thornton gives CdM one of the best weight rooms in Orange County. That would be hard to argue with Humphreys and Mark Redman looking like imposing blockers on the outside in the running game.
Beyond that, Humphreys has made it his mission to get faster. He has worked on speed training, which he says is a key component for separating himself at the next level.
“I’ve always been tall for my age,” Humphreys said. “I wasn’t as fast as I wanted to be the last couple of years.
“That’s something that I focused on this offseason, and I feel like I really have improved my speed. I can use my height and now my speed.”
O’Shea praised Humphreys for his commitment to offseason workouts, adding that he is certainly on track toward becoming an elite talent.
“I think he’s probably made a jump from like a 4.7-[second] guy last year to a 4.5-[second] 40-[yard dash] time this year,” O’Shea said. “It’s amazing. He’s got substantially more size, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a year from now, after his junior year, he gets down to a 4.4.
“At that size, that’s a different dude. That’s a different guy. The ball is in the air at 6-5, it’s just so physical. The basketball skills that he has, the ability to compete and time the ball in the air, it’s just like getting a rebound. It’s just a natural skill trait that makes him special.”
Humphreys will be working with his third quarterback in three seasons. He has been thrown to by Chase Garbers (Cal) and Nathaniel Espinoza.
This season, Ethan Garbers will take the reins, and he is excited to have Humphreys as a target.
“He can turn a little screen pass into a big 25-yard play,” said Ethan Garbers, who recently received his first offer from San Jose State. “He just has that ability. Even though it might not be a well-thrown ball, he’s going to come down with it.”
CdM will have another look this season with its entry into the Sunset League. The Sea Kings could not have been more thrilled with the realignment.