KENT: Kent State football coach Paul Haynes had some high praise for junior wide receiver Chris Humphrey, even if Humphrey isn’t able to fully appreciate it yet.
When Haynes was asked if anyone had stood out or surprised him during spring practice, he mentioned Humphrey, and compared him to a former Ohio State receiver who’s turned into a solid option for the Miami Dolphins.
“Chris Humphrey is a great ballplayer,” Haynes said. “He reminds me of Brian Hartline. That’s exactly who he reminds me of. With his energy, that’s exactly how Brian was.”
Hartline had a terrific career as a Buckeye and was drafted in the fourth round by the Dolphins in 2009. It’s a promising compliment from your new head coach after only six practices.
Except Humphrey doesn’t know who Brian Hartline is. When told who he was being compared to, Humphrey drew a blank.
“Who’s Brian Hartline?” he said. “I’ll have to look him up now, see what he’s about. If he’s a good player, it’s nice to hear.”
It should be nice to hear. For one, Hartline, a GlenOak graduate, is largely thought of as a tough and talented receiver who plays hard. And two, he just signed five-year, $30.775 million contract.
Of course, Haynes is only comparing their effort and work ethic, not necessarily talent. But Humphrey does have a chance at making a bigger impact on the Golden Flashes’ passing game this season. Last year, he caught 26 passes for 319 yards but did not score a touchdown as KSU’s fourth-leading receiver. Tyshon Goode might return this season, but the graduation of Matt Hurdle leaves the other outside spot open.
Humphrey, again, will have to compete with Josh Boyle for playing time. Those two have long been at the same level and have competed with one another step for step. The injury to Goode opened the door for some real playing time, and the two put up nearly identical numbers in catches and yards. Humphrey says the competition, along with the passing down of knowledge, has helped him.
“It’s helped me a lot to learn from the older players,” he said. “Now I’m trying to relay the message down to the younger kids and trying to get everyone energized. I’m trying to work myself as hard as I can to get over the hump, get to the next level and show these kids what D-I football is all about at the collegiate level.”
Goode’s return — he essentially missed the entire 2012 season with a hamstring injury and returned this week to practice — would go a long way in taking the pressure and attention off of the other receivers trying to break though. Haynes said last week they’ll have to be cautious with Goode, so as to not “lose him forever.”
Should he be able to contribute like he once did, Goode’s presence offers a lot more than simply statistics.
“It definitely helps us,” Humphrey said. “He’s had a lot of experience here. He’s kind of our coach now, working hard to get better and to help us get better. When he comes back, it’s like he never left. He can feed off of us.”
Humphrey’s looking forward to again finding a rhythm in the receiving corps with Goode healthy and acting as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver. What’s not helping that rhythm is the competition brewing between quarterbacks David Fisher and Colin Reardon, one year removed from Fisher’s battle with Spencer Keith.
It’s been a long time since Humphrey and the other KSU receivers have had one quarterback throwing to them in practice. That often causes a rift in the connection between quarterback and wide receiver, but Humphrey says he’s been used to it all his life, and he’s able to make adjustments to whoever’s throwing to him on any particular play.
Perhaps that gives Humphrey an edge over Boyle, who will have to adjust as well. Both will surely still contribute, but Haynes’ comparison might not bode well for Boyle’s playing time. Even if he actually knows who Brian Hartline is.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.