D.J. Humphries wasn’t used to this type of injury. The Florida Gators left tackle not only suffered a sprained ankle in the season opener against Eastern Michigan, but chipped a bone, putting him out 2-3 weeks. Back on the field this week in preparation for Tennessee, Humprhies is ready to go.
“I always have people kind of falling on me. It was one of them things like, ‘Again?’” he said. “I’m more ready now, though. Back on the field. I’m happy.”
Mike Summer told Kurt Roper that he believes Humphries is about 85% and his playing time will be evaluated throughout the week leading up to Saturday’s game against Tennessee. However, Humprhies said he’s moving around well and has been focused on getting his rhythm back on offense.
The team has felt a difference in Humprhies’ return to practice, and while Max Garcia feels the junior will have to get used to the speed of the game, he believes in his teammate’s ability.
“I love having D.J. on the field,” Garcia said. “Just having his energy really lifts us all up. You could really tell when he was out, during practice we just didn’t have that much fire that D.J. brings every day.”
During his time at Florida, Humphries said he learned how to channel his energy from Chaz Green, as well as former linemen Xavier Nixon and Jon Halapio. The junior now passes the advice down to redshirt freshman Rod Johnson, someone D.J. sees a lot of himself in.
“He’s so energetic and just excited to play ball and just turnt up as soon as he makes a play,” Humphries said. “He’s just ready to sell out everybody. I just try to tell him you gotta calm down, bro, just be ready to make the next play, good or bad and be ready to do the same thing over again.”
The return of the left tackle also brings stability to a line that didn’t have much consistency playing together last season. The Gators will see a Tennessee team that has improved this year. The Volunteers’ defense has given up 366.2 yards per game this season, less than their 2013 average of 418.4. Tennessee also has 8 sacks this year, with three coming from last week’s loss against Georgia.
“They’ve got a physical D-line, so we’re going to have to bring our hard hat and be ready to hit,” Humprhies said.
Saturday’s game at Neyland Stadium will have even more meaning. As a freshman in 2012, the home crowd heckled Humprhies, who had an offer to play for the Volunteers. However, the Gators would silence the catcalls and send fans home with a loss, winning 37-20.
Healthy and ready to get back on the field after missing most of the season, Humprhies wants to recreate the scene of disappointed Volunteer fans this Saturday.
“Man, it was, that was pretty surprising because there was so many people there,” he said. “For a freshman that’s something that gives you a lot of confidence, makes you want to go back.”