CLEMSON — During his four-year career at Dorman High School, Adam Humphries never found time to rest.
Humphries played tailback, quarterback, wide receiver, safety, cornerback and even returned kicks.
During his senior season, he had 17 pass receptions for 329 yards and four touchdowns, 34 carries for 178 yards and a rushing score, 32 tackles, nine pass breakups, three interceptions and seven kick returns for 155 yards.
In other words, he did a little bit of everything.
“I rarely sat down,” Humphries said this week.
In that respect, his current role is pretty much a breeze.
The injury-riddled state of Clemson’s secondary pushed Humphries, a sophomore wide receiver, into action at Wake Forest last week. He responded with a pair of tackles in 10 late-game snaps, raising the specter of a potential continual dual role.
“Wherever they want me, I’ll go out and play. I’ve heard that a lot recently. It’s pretty funny,” he said. “ I played both in high school, and it’s nothing new to me. It’s exciting for me to do it for this team.”
Following Oct. 20’s 38-17 win over Virginia Tech, Dabo Swinney said his defense “had a crisis on our hands.” Reserve corner Martin Jenkins was out for the season following groin surgery, and starter Darius Robinson broke his left ankle, sidelining him for the rest of the regular season.
What’s more, fellow starter Bashaud Breeland had an abdominal strain which would sideline him for the Thursday game at Wake, leaving three healthy original scholarship corners – senior Xavier Brewer, sophomore Garry Peters and redshirt freshman Cortez Davis.
“(Humphries) was the answer to the crisis,” Swinney said.
Last week, Humphries spent several periods per practice with the defense, working on his rusty cover skills and learning schemes. Swinney said coaches worked with him, telling him his job as an individual.
“I think he’s a very, very intelligent guy,” said offensive coordinator Chad Morris. “It may sound like a corny statement, but the guy knows football. If anybody can do it he can do it. Whatever you need done, however many plays you need to do it, let’s go.”
He did just that at Wake. He started the game at wide receiver in place of Sammy Watkins, who was late for a meeting. He caught one pass for four yards, returned three punts for a net of four yards, and played the final 10 defensive snaps at cornerback.
Humphries said Swinney warned him he could see defensive playing time at Wake, but for it to happen so quickly was a bit of a surprise.
“(Wake) probably saw me out there and wanted to come right back at me,” Humphries said.”I was glad to help in any way I could. Two tackles brought back some good memories.”
He felt comfortable playing corner, and wasn’t nervous, just a little excited and anxious.
Moving across the ball, Humphries said, unlocks a different mentality.
“You’re aggressive on both sides of the ball,” he said. “When you’re on offense you’re in an offensive mindset. Defense, you’ve just got to completely change your mindset. Stopping the ball, trying to stop first downs, it’s totally different.”
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables has been impressed with Humphries’ skills, and says he could help in the secondary full-time if necessary.
“He’s tough, he’s intelligent, he’s incredibly competitive, naturally gifted, explosive and fast,” Venables said. “He has super change-of-direction. He’s very instinctive and has great ball skills. He ranks at the top of the charts in so many areas, a lot of things you just can’t coach. He’s got that. He’s got that ‘it’ factor.
“I’m sure he was a heck of a high school football player. The fact he’s never left the field doesn’t surprise me at all. You’ve watched us this year: we had some other guys get in there who haven’t been able to have the same kind of consistent position. He’s a pretty good tackler too.”
Morris said Humphries is tireless and trustworthy.
“He’s a guy who’s going to get you lined up, he’s not going to get you beat,” Morris said. “I’ve said it many times before, you can put Adam Humphries on the field and literally turn your back and know the job’s going to get done.”
When pressed, Humphries says he doesn’t have a favorite position of the two, and added “I feel I could excel at both positions.”
“It’s up to coach Swinney and the coaches, wherever they want me,” he said. “I’ll be glad to get out there and help.”
For now, his future appears to be on offense. He’ll attend offensive meetings this week and work primarily with the offense in practice.
“He’s going to play a lot of offense,” Morris said. “We haven’t quite given him up yet. He’s a big part of our success and helping push Sammy. He’s done a good job pushing Sammy and getting Sammy going at that position.”