JH Rose student athlete Grant Humphreys is a member of the Rampants' basketball, football, lacrosse and swim teams. (252Buzz file photo by Bill Hudson)
By Mike Grizzard
Grant Humphreys can’t exactly pinpoint his motivation, but he wants to be involved in as much as possible during his time at J.H. Rose High School, especially if it’s competitive.
On weekdays and Friday nights during fall, football consumes much of his time. In winter, he’s in the pool two mornings a week before the sun rises then heads to basketball practice after school. He caps it off in spring with lacrosse, all while taking a demanding class schedule (four AP courses and journalism this semester).
As the BMOC (Busiest Man on Campus) during his three-plus years at Rose, Humphreys always is in search of the next challenge. So why does he pack his schedule so full?
“I guess it’s just trying to see how well I can do in whatever I’m doing,” said Humphreys, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Sept. 21. “I probably will end up playing lacrosse next (spring), but part of me wants to play tennis just to see. And I just moved onto the golf course so I might have to start taking up golf.”
Those who have spent much time around the middle child of Holt and Taylor Humphreys don’t doubt he can master anything he attempts. Whether it’s adjusting to a different sport or shifting to a different position -- which he has done twice in football -- playing a major role or relegated to a reserve spot, Humphreys finds a way to contribute.
“He probably played the least minutes and got the Team Before Self Award,” Rose head basketball coach James Rankins said. “During the season, if there was a good play they all (on the bench) jumped and cheered. He was our leader. We gave him Team Before Self, but because of him five other guys got it.”
Defensive coordinator Robert Compton has seen just how versatile Humphreys has been for the Rose football team, moving from quarterback to receiver to running back. He also handled kicking and punting duties when Wesley Shade was injured earlier this year. And he has worked out at cornerback and free safety.
“Just his pure athletic ability, his willingness to help anybody at any position is kind of unmatched,” Compton said. “He’s kind of a do-all. We have several kids who talk about him all the time about being like (the Carolina Panthers’) Christian McCaffrey. Line him up anywhere and everywhere. There’s no doubt we could line him up, if we played a tight end, and he could catch balls there.
“I doubt that there’s anything he couldn’t go out and try and be successful,” Compton said. “It’s just the way he carries himself all the time. He knows that whatever he puts his mind to he’s going to be successful, and he’s going to enjoy every minute of being there.”
Humphreys earned the JH Rose Basketball "Team Before Self Award." (252Buzz file photo by Bill Hudson)
Mapping out his own path
In a city renowned for baseball, Humphreys mapped out a different path from that of most of his peers. He began swimming competitively and played recreation soccer at an early age, then took up lacrosse in middle school at St. Peter. That’s when he also added football, basketball and baseball to his plate.
He dropped baseball in favor of lacrosse after one year at Rose. After a couple of years of recreation basketball, he earned a spot on the Rose varsity team as a junior.
“I love the sport of basketball, I’m just not that good at it,” Humphreys said. “I didn’t play a lot. I will say I led the team in shooting percentage. Three for four.”
Rankins said Humphreys’ value cannot be measured in statistics, but he figures his presence on the team was worth about four wins last year.
“You have some guys who don’t play very much, and they don’t play hard, but Grant kept those guys pumped up, and when they came to the court they were ready to go,” Rankins said.
The benefit for Humphreys in being a part of several teams is forming a wide network of friends and gaining a variety of experiences.
“It’s a different environment with each sport, the guys there and the mentality,” he said. “The basketball team is actually really fun. Since it’s such a smaller team, all the guys are so close on that team.”
Humphreys has shifted positions on the Rampants' football team from quarterback to receiver to his current role as running back. (252Buzz file photo by Bill Hudson)
Adjusting to change
Humphreys secured the starting quarterback job on the junior varsity football team at Rose as a freshman, but his journey to new positions soon would begin. He split time with Grant Charles Jarman during the early part of his sophomore season before switching to receiver for the remainder of the year, then made the move to running back this year.
Each change brought both opportunities and challenges.
“It was a lot harder than going from quarterback to receiver,” Humphreys said. “Quarterback to receiver I knew all the routes and how to block on run plays, which is pretty simple. Going from those two positions to running back I had to learn all the linemen’s assignments and when and where holes would open up, defensive fronts, how they would line up and how that affected where holes would open up.”
The move from quarterback initially gnawed at his ego before Humphreys was satisfied it was best for the team.
“At first I was kind of like, ‘Dang,’ but (Jarman) throws better than me,” he said. “His accuracy is way better. I would say I’m a little more mobile than him, but with the team we had last year and this year it’s best that we spread out our talent.”
Humphreys produced in his new role as a receiver, ranking second on the team last year with 41 catches for 459 yards and five touchdowns. He also mixed in 16 carries for 121 yards and completed 4 of 7 passes with two touchdowns in spot duty at quarterback.
With the return of the receiving corps intact, led by Ben Harris and Jake Henry Rogers, and a depleted backfield heading into this year, the Rose coaching staff again looked to Humphreys to fill a need.
“We had several kids that we knew were graduating and moving on at running back,” Compton said. “We really only had one that was coming back in Brice Bizzell. We knew we needed to add some depth, and the first place we could find to add depth besides Shaquan Perry coming up from JV was Grant, who had played some running back at St. Peter’s. We knew he had that ability. He had played some running back and was a running-type quarterback. We wanted to make sure we got him physically ready for the demands of taking the shots that a running back is going to take.”
That meant an off-season of bulking up, adding about 20 pounds to prepare his body for more contact, “but it just made me slower,” Humphreys said.
He’s also been dealing with a nagging injury suffered during last lacrosse season.
“Dr. Chris Hasty said there’s a 90 percent chance I broke my tailbone,” he said. “That’s been playing a factor this whole year. That takes six months to a year to heal. I definitely can feel that when we’re doing stuff. The extra 20 pounds I put on along with my tailbone, it’s definitely slowed me down.”
Still, Humphreys leads the Rampants with 281 rushing yards and two touchdowns and has found the end zone on four of his seven receptions. He is part of a four running back system that presents contrasting styles to defenses.
Tyrone King is “the fast one,” Perry is “the bulldozer,” and Bizzell is “more of a short-distance power runner,” Humphreys said.
“For me, we can never as a group figure out what it is,” he said. “I’m not the fastest. I don’t bulldoze people like Shaquan does. A little aspect of each one.
“The main thing I’ve noticed whenever any of the other running backs are in, (tacklers) always make sure to go low at the legs. Whenever they see me, they always try and hit me up high. Most of the time -- I don’t want to jinx myself -- I can take a hit and stay up if they hit me high. I get lucky that way.”
Humphreys also plays lacrosse for JH Rose. (252Buzz file photo by Bill Hudson)
Humphreys doesn’t anticipate keeping up quite the same pace next year when he heads off to college. He has an eye on attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where his sister, Lauren Taylor Humphreys, attends, and eventually taking over his dad’s dentistry practice.
“If that doesn’t work out, then I’ll probably do something in business,” he said. “But that could change at any time.”
Don’t be surprised if he tries his hand at yet another sport. He may not be able to adjust to any idle time.
“It’s gets tough with school,” he said. “That’s why I think in college I don’t want to do anything other than maybe club water polo. I think that would be fun. I’ve grown up swimming my whole life, and I’m decently coordinated with a ball. I’ve played a couple of times, so I may want to give that try. I think that would be my best sport.”
Mike Grizzard of Winterville has more than 30 years of experience as a writer for both print and digital publications in the areas of sports, business, news, faith and personal profiles. Contact Mike at 252-916-4206.