Hoover High School is one of the top high school football programs in the country. The Bucs have produced an array of prospects, and this year cornerback Marlon Humphrey is their star.
Humphrey, who is one of the top players in America, is a great cover prospect who could make an early impact in college. He has an offer from many of the top college programs in the country yet informed Scout.com that he is down to his final schools.
Humphrey will have a tough decision to make, as all five schools have strong cases as to why he would excel in their program. He must decide whether he wants to attend a powerhouse school with family ties, go play for a school known for producing good defensive backs or sign with a Pac-12 program with excellent facilities.
The Bulldogs are an upstart SEC program and have a good coach in Dan Mullen. They run a defensive scheme that is based on toughness and speed, which fits Humphrey. Mississippi State was one of the first schools to begin recruiting Humphrey, and it has made a big impression on him. Humphrey would also be able to play as a true freshman, and a starting role is not out of the question.
MSU is a member of the SEC West, and it is behind Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M in the pecking order. If he wants to put himself in the position to play in the SEC title game and a prestigious bowl, Mississippi State may not be his best option. Humphrey could win as a Bulldog, but not as much as he would at other programs on his list.
The Ducks are a "sexy" program, as they wear flashy uniforms and play an up-tempo style of football. Oregon is not afraid to play freshmen who exhibit rare traits, such as Humphrey.
With the Ducks being a Pac-12 school, Humphrey would receive more reps in their conference than he would in the SEC, as the former league is known for its passing offenses. Oregon, which has a great stadium and fanbase, is one of the top programs in the country and competes for Rose Bowl berths on an annual basis.
Eugene is nowhere near close to Alabama and Humphrey would be in for a culture change. He may not be comfortable as he settles into the program. The weather is not always ideal, as Oregon receives heavy rain.
The Gamecocks are led by Steve Spurrier, and the Ol' Ball Coach is the ultimate player's coach. He has instilled a laid back mentality into the program, and things are not as intense in Columbia as they are at other places around the country. If Humphrey is looking for a calmer environment and program that does not demand an excessive amount of time spent preparing, South Carolina could be for him.
The Gamecocks also play in the SEC East, which gives them an easier road to get to the SEC title game.
The Gamecocks are a good program, but they are not dominant. Also, at some point, Steve Spurrier will permanently hang up his clipboard for his golf clubs. This could happen during Humphrey's tenure.
Florida State is one the premier programs in the country. Jimbo Fisher has resurrected the Seminoles, and they are loaded with great young talent. FSU has recruited well defensively, leaving Humphrey surrounded by many other great players. Fisher appears to be firmly entrenched as the leader in Tallahassee, bringing stability to the program.
Florida State has produced a wealth of great defensive backs, and Humphrey would be viewed as next in line. He would have the opportunity to play in big games, compete for ACC titles and play for multiple national championships.
Humphrey would have to claw his way up the depth chart, as FSU always has good defensive back prospects. Although the Seminoles are close to Alabama, they are not an SEC program, and Humphrey would not routinely face great competition.
Alabama is the two-time defending national champion and an absolute juggernaut of a program. Its roster is full of future NFL draft picks, and the Tide are always in the hunt for an SEC title and a national championship.
Nick Saban is not only a great head coach, but he's also one of the best defensive back coaches in all of football. Humphrey would receive NFL-style coaching and play in a scheme that would prepare him to be a pro. Winning, the chance to play in marquee games, a huge spotlight and national exposure all come with the opportunity to play for 'Bama.
Finally, Humphrey has family ties to the Tide, as his father Bobby was a running back for Alabama in the late 1980s.
Humphrey will have to decide if he wants to follow his father's footsteps or blaze his own trail. He may face excessive pressure at Alabama due to the Tide's great recent history at defensive back, intense fan base and being close to home. Nick Saban is a demanding coach and presides over a strict and business-minded environment, so Humphrey must be sure this is a good fit.