FRISCO, Texas — On New Year’s Eve, 4-star Sachse (Texas) safety Isaiah Humphries gave Penn State fans another reason to pop the champagne.
The nation’s 26th-ranked safety called Nittany Lions coach James Franklin at 11:30 p.m. ET to commit, following in his father’s footsteps. Leonard Humphries played defensive back for the Nittany Lions, and the Buffalo Bills drafted him in the eighth round of the 1992 NFL Draft.
But the younger Humphries’ reasons for following that familiar path to State College diverge from his father’s shadow.
“It’s an amazing place,” Humphries said at the Dallas Opening regional on Sunday. “When I went up there multiple times, the stadium’s amazing. A hundred and seven thousand people, it’s crazy. I went there, they had a white-out and a stripe-out, too. It’s just great.
“I’ve checked out the academics and the facilities and everything. Everything was real nice. It’s a place for me. We have a great class right now.”
Being an early commit in the 2018 class, Humphries said he’s cherishing his ability to serve as an ambassador for the class — and hopefully guide more top recruits from Texas toward Beaver Stadium.
“Really, the big thing is to get them to visit,” Humphries said. “It’s kind of far (from Texas), so these schools around Texas, people can go there easily. When you go there and see how it really is, it can change your whole idea on what the place is.”
A long way until National Signing Day
Make no mistake — being a legacy and an early commit, Humphries isn’t second-guessing his decision to announce for Penn State. But with a college landscape that can change dramatically overnight, Humphries is keeping his options open.
Humphries recently received offers from Oregon, Baylor and Kansas. Arkansas and LSU are still “on him” right now.
“They try to get me to flip,” Humphries said. “I just tell them, they know I’m committed and they respect that. Mostly, they’re just asking me if I want to take an official (visit). Schools that I like, I definitely want to take an official to them. I just keep my options open, like you said, just in case things happen.”
Specifically, Humphries said he’s “probably” going to take an official visit to Oregon and “maybe” Baylor.
“Definitely Penn State,” Humphries said.
But there’s also an 800-pound elephant in the room, so to speak.
“Hopefully I get one from Alabama,” Humphries said. “I’d take one there.”
That Roll Tide connection is because of Jared Mayden, a sophomore defensive back who played as a true freshman in 2016. Mayden is a Sachse alum, and the older brother of Jalen Mayden, the No. 9 dual-threat quarterback in the nation for 2018.
“He went there, and he likes it,” Humphries said about Jared. “I just think a lot of corners, DBs go to the league, and a lot of people from Alabama go to the league, so that’s what I like.”
Proving ground at the Opening
Humphries is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound safety, and the No. 37 player in the state of Texas for 2018. At Nike’s Opening regional camp at the Dallas Cowboys training facility, Humphries has one goal.
“That I’m the best,” Humphries said, shrugging his shoulders. “That’s it.”
He’ll have a chance to do that throughout the day, as more than 15 of the top 50 players in Texas are in attendance, along with hundreds of recruits from the Lone Star State and beyond.
“I don’t know anyone’s name here,” Humphries said. “I’m just going out and playing. It doesn’t matter who steps up.”
If he does that, people from State College and beyond will soon know Isaiah Humphries’ name.