Photo Credit: University of Florida Athletics Association
While the Elite 11 quarterback competition stole the show last week as far as coverage goes, there was another competition that took place during it too, giving other athletes to show off their abilities and why they're some of the best in the country.
For 2022 Florida Gators commit, cornerback Julian Humphrey, that's exactly what he did, becoming one of the top players at the event and showing why Florida was so high on him early and often throughout the recruiting process.
In the end, Humphrey set out to prove to himself and other people that he is "the best," and that's just what he did.
"I did phenomenal," Humphrey told AllGators last week. "I feel like I did good. You know, a whole bunch of (pass breakups). Fastest man, best vert. I mean, I came out here and showed out for Texas."
The event would take place in Manhattan Beach (Ca.) at Mira Costa High School where Humphrey ran one of the fastest times in the 40-yard-dash, clocking in at 4.38 seconds, earning the fastest man award at the event. He would also take the vertical jump award, jumping at 41 inches.
This wouldn't be the first time that Humphrey has run a blazing 40-yard-dash time. In high school, at a Memphis camp, Humphrey ran an impressive 4.36. It was that day the young defensive back would gain four offers from various programs, he told AllGators.
Humphrey, 6-foot, 185 pounds, originally committed to Florida in May, citing the program's loyalty and his ability to earn early playing time at the university. Currently, the Gators are set to have cornerbacks Kaiir Elam and Jaydon Hill starting in their secondary this year.
That all could change in the coming seasons, however, and Humphrey sees it as an opportunity to earn his stripes early.
"This year, Kaiir Elam is gonna play and (Jaydon) Hill of course and they're gonna roll in (Jason) Marshall the freshman," Humphrey explained when asked about the pitch Florida cornerbacks coach Jules Montinar has given him and why he remains committed to the program.
"So, he gonna throw [freshman cornerback] (Jason) Marshall in there to give him a couple of reps in and give him a feel for it so whenever next year when Kaiir Elam leaves, he's gonna be up there and then he gonna do the same thing with me as a freshman. Jaydon Hill's gonna leave and then me and (Jason) Marshall. It's gonna be great."
While Humphrey won't likely get an opportunity to learn from Elam on the gridiron at Florida - the junior cornerback is likely to enter the NFL Draft following this year -, he's still been able to talk to the All-SEC cornerback, and met with him during The Opening last week, soaking in all the advice he could.
"You know, if whenever you come to Florida, the best is going to play," Humphrey said of what Elam told him during the event. "And then he told me like, 'you're the best and you come in to handle your business you can play because the coach don't mind starting freshman.' I mean, as long as you do your thing and you catch on fast, you're gonna start."
While it remains to be seen how much playing time Humphrey would ultimately receive from Florida when he steps foot on campus next year, their propensity to play freshman cornerbacks early is well documented.
Elam would play during his freshman season, and prior to that, now-Arizona Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson would be one of the first freshman starting cornerbacks for the team several years ago. Former Gators cornerback CJ Henderson would also earn plenty of playing time. The precedent is set, and it appears Humphrey could be one of the next in line.
With his incredible athleticism and intelligence on the gridiron, Florida will want to continue ensuring Humphrey does sign when it comes time to do so in December. Having a player of his caliber will pay dividends for the Florida defense for years to come.