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Humphries in line to be best ever at MSU

By EDWARD MARLOWE emarlowe@paducahsun.com

Murray State's 2016 redshirt senior quarterback almost wasn't.

As a gangly freshman from Montgomery, Alabama, KD Humphries came in as a recruit under former Racer head coach Chris Hatcher and won the backup job behind senior standout and Calloway County native Casey Brockman.

Brockman finished his career as the most decorated field general in Racer history, picking up all the passing records he could along the way. The torch was Humphries' to take.

But some better opportunities presented themselves to Hatcher and Murray State, especially after Humphries was absent from workouts during the summer of 2013. Former Ole Miss quarterback Maikhail Miller transferred to Murray State and eventually won the starting job over Humphries heading into fall camp.

In one season at the helm, Miller was solid - rushing for 429 yards and five touchdowns coupled with 2,221 yards passing and 18 TDs. Humphries was given his redshirt and a clipboard, forced to wait another year for his opportunity.

Citing personal reasons, Miller abruptly sought a transfer and release before the spring camp of 2014. Humphries' chance opened once again until Hatcher opted to give South Alabama quarterback C.J. Bennett a fighting chance in the open competition.

And it was Bennett - not Humphries - named the Week One starter in 2014, further delaying Humphries' anticipated debut.

"I think that's the best thing that could've ever happened to that kid," Brockman said. "He was able to come in and realize nothing is ever given."

Two weeks later in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Hatcher pulled the plug on the Bennett experiment and inserted Humphries into the game. Though his numbers weren't particularly dashing - 16-for-31 with 185 yards and four rushes for another 15 - he didn't have any turnovers against the Broncos of Western Michigan.

The job of quarterback has been his ever since. Humphries immediately impressed in his first home start against then-No. 8 Jacksonville State - keeping the Racers locked into a tight contest until the Gamecocks rolled in the second half and wound up with a 52-28 victory. Humphries finished with 297 total yards with three touchdowns and just one turnover, engineering scoring drives of 1:41, 1:33, 1:30 and 2:47 in Hatcher's famed "Hatch Attack" offense.

The future was finally the present.

By the end of 2014, Humphries was a rising star not just in the Ohio Valley Conference, but in all of FCS football. He finished with 27 passing touchdowns and just 12 interceptions, tossing up 3,483 yards despite not playing the first two-plus games of the season.

Closing in on Brockman

From 2009-12, Brockman put up video game numbers for the Racers: 71 career passing touchdowns, most touchdowns in a season with 28, most touchdowns in a game with eight (2012 vs. UT Martin), most career passing yards (9,990), most yards in one game (600 vs. Tennessee State in 2011), highest career completion rate (66.8 percent) and highest season completion rate (69.4 percent in 2012).

And if everything goes according to plan for second-year head coach Mitch Stewart and his Racers in 2016, it will be Humphries at the top of every passing record - Brockman a distant second.

The former Laker and Murray native has a unique perspective on Humphries. Brockman was the quarterbacks coach for the Racers in 2015 - Stewart's inaugural season. This season, he's the wide receivers coach, and jokingly the talk around fall camp is to switch to a wishbone offense and sabotage Humphries' plans to usurp the local king of the pass.

Laughs aside, Brockman says he doesn't mind seeing someone like Humphries attack the record books - mostly because of his character.

"Not that I would be upset by any means, but at least it (should be) somebody that I was able to teach just a little bit, coach and just be around," he added. "It makes it a little more refreshing that it's a good dude. He's a great teammate. He's not one of the guys going around looking and saying, 'Hey, I'm 50 yards away from that record.'"

Defense appreciates Humphries

By the end of his 2015 season - 22 TDs and seven interceptions with another 3,778 yards - it was apparent Humphries was going to be a top FCS quarterback. He was named a third-team FCS All-American by STATS LLC, while his matchup against first-team All-American Jacksonville State quarterback Eli Jenkins later this season was named as one of the top-10 matchups of the 2016 schedule.

Several blogs have named him as a potential FCS steal in the 2017 NFL Draft, but for now Humphries is helping his team on more than just offense.

The defense is more than happy to have a quarterback who can do a little bit of everything present the ultimate practice.

"To go against one of the best quarterbacks not only in this conference, but in the country, it makes you feel good about yourself," said starting linebacker Lamont Crittendon. "You know you're going to get the best look - the best shot - in the whole conference every day in practice. It's definitely a great benefit for this team. It's definitely a benefit for our defense."

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