April 22, 2017
AUSTIN – When asked following the Texas Orange-White Spring Game if plays like the highlight reel-worthy 35-yard touchdown Lil’Jordan Humphrey pulled in was reflective of the kind of spring he had, Tom Herman paused.
Herman then asked the reporter to clarify what exactly they wanted to know about Humphrey’s spring.
“What? Him not leaving his feet to try to catch a ball and reaching one hand out? Yes, that’s what I’ve seen from 15 practice,” Herman said. “Or were you talking about his production?”
Humphrey finished the spring game with 54 receiving yards on two receptions, which included the touchdown catch from Sam Ehlinger that Herman said “kind of put the White team back in it.”
While Humphrey’s spring game outing capped off a productive run of practices that saw him get time on the field with the No. 1 offense, Herman knows Humphrey is capable of much more than what he showed.
For instance, a jump ball in the end zone where Humphrey had Eric Cuffee beat fell incomplete partly because, as Herman noted, Humphrey didn’t appear to time the ball in the air correctly. According to Herman, that made two of the team’s final three practices where he felt Humphrey could’ve done more to come down with a 50/50 ball.
With that said, despite Herman wanting Humphrey to spend his offseason working on making more plays for his quarterback, Herman praised Humphrey for the gains he made over the course of 15 practices.
“If you were to group into ‘getting better,’ ‘staying the same’ or ‘regressing,’ he’s definitely in the getting better category,” Herman said. “Each and every week we see more and more production from him.”
A high school running back at Southlake Carroll who didn’t make the transition to wide receiver until his senior season, Humphrey bounced between the backfield and being out wide as a true freshman. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound sophomore is now at wide receiver for good, a position where the previous staff felt like he was starting to show something before a season-ending knee injury suffered by Chris Warren III necessitated Humphrey’s move to running back.
Offensive coordinator Tim Beck mentioned Humphrey as one of the players on offense who surprised him the most this spring in terms of the gains they made. Humphrey improved enough that appears to have passed John Burt in the pecking order at outside receiver; he appears to be no worse than fourth behind Jerrod Heard and Collin Johnson while being either even or slightly ahead of Dorian Leonard.
There was some thought prior to the start of spring practice that Humphrey could see some time at tight end given the shortage of bodies at the position. But Humphrey has found a home at wide receiver and showed in the spring game that he’s capable of being a difference-maker on the outside.
(Photo: John Gutierrez, USA TODAY Sports)