It still seems as if it wasn’t too long ago that Lil’Jordan Humphrey was an incoming three-star recruit, hardly ranked within the top 400 in his class when signing with what was then Charlie Strong’s Texas Longhorns program.
Three short seasons later, the former Southlake Carroll star has since emerged as not only the headliner of the Longhorns 2016 class, which added signatures from 18 other more highly-rated recruits, but as the top talent in a revamped Texas offense, and that isn’t merely in the minds of a masses and the media.
Following the latest win over Iowa State, Texas head coach Tom Herman supported the general consensus, pointing tremendous praise in the direction of his star pass-catcher.
“He’s our best player. I don’t think anybody would blink or anybody on that offense think any differently,” Herman said of Humphrey during his post-game media availability. “You’re talking about an offense that has some really good players, especially even at his position, Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay, our quarterback’s playing really well. We feel like we’ve got one of the best tight ends in the conference too. But he’s just so versatile, he’s so aggressive,” Herman said, calling it “mind-boggling how brilliant” Humphrey is when it comes to college football.
“So, yeah, he is the heart and — I don’t want to say the heart and soul — he’s, he is a guy that has made it really fun to coach because he can do so much and we can now start to get a little bit creative in our formations too to try to get him matched up as well,” Herman added moments later.
Sure, whether it be Herman or whomever, dubbing Humphrey as the best offensive option for Texas is purely subjective, but it’s a sentiment that’s certainly easy to support, especially after Saturday night.
Just one week after snagging the game-winning touchdown grab against Texas Tech, Humphrey reached the end zone in highlight-worthy fashion yet again. This time around, though, Humphrey’s 27-yard catch and run score etched the junior’s name in the Longhorns record books, as he surpassed the 1,000-yard mark, marking just the ninth time a Texas receiver has reached that milestone in a single season and becoming one of only seven Longhorns to do so — Roy Williams and Jordan Shipley each recorded 1,000 yards twice.
CAN'T BE STOPPED @LJ_Humphrey23!!! #ThisIsTexas #HookEm pic.twitter.com/71whMtGdpr— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) November 18, 2018
Humphrey is now the first Longhorns receiver to surpass the 1,000-yard mark since John Harris in 2014. Furthermore, with 1,033 yards to date, Humphrey’s 2018 efforts sit as the eighth-best of any receiver in school history, trailing only Jordan Shipley (1,060), Roy Williams (1,079), Wane McGarity (1,087), Quan Cosby (1,123), Williams again (1,142), Kwame Cavil (1,188), and Shipley again (1,485).
Given how well within reach some of those figures are, there’s plenty of room for Humphrey to continue carving out his place in Longhorns history.
For example, if Humphrey continues at his current pace of 94 receiving yards per game, he’ll surpass Shipley’s 2008 season, Williams’ 2003 campaign, as well as McGarity and Cosby to cap the regular season with the fourth-best single-season receiving effort in school history.
If Texas goes on to appear in the Big 12 Championship game, as it’s currently on pace to do, Humphrey maintaining that same pace of 94 yards per game would see him climb to 1,221 receiving yards this season, which would be the second-best mark in school history, behind only Shipley’s 2009 season.
Even after carving out a niche as a versatile offensive weapon last season en route to 431 receiving yards, a step forward as substantial as the one Humphrey is now enjoying in real time would have been difficult to accurately project, and it’s more likely than not that very few made that leap.
Humphrey has made that leap, though, and he’s now the much-needed star for a much-improved Texas offense. The eye test says Humphrey’s rise to that role won’t be forgotten any time soon. The record books guarantee that it never will.
Not bad for a former three-star recruit, hardly ranked within the top 400 in his class.