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He Came Out Picture Perfect
Douglas S. Looney
June 04, 1984
A 'can't miss kid' in high school, Stefan Humphries didn't disappoint any profs or coaches at Michigan
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June 04, 1984

He Came Out Picture Perfect

A 'can't miss kid' in high school, Stefan Humphries didn't disappoint any profs or coaches at Michigan

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"Are you sure you're enjoying yourself?"

"I'm enjoying myself, Bo, but I've got to go study."

As gorgeous as Humphries' transcript is, it doesn't reflect his true academic excellence. At Michigan, an A plus is worth no more in GPA computation than an A, and Humphries earned nine A pluses to go with his 15 A's. "I didn't come to Michigan to get all A's," he says. "I came to learn." And, as you might suspect by now, he did it all in four years, a feat Duderstadt calls "very rare." Most Michigan engineering students take 4½ to five years to earn their degrees.

Humphries belongs to all kinds of honorary societies, including Tau Beta Pi, the engineering equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa, and ranks among the top 10% of the 1,081 graduating seniors in the engineering school. "He's as big mentally and humanly as he is physically," says Lee Quackenbush, assistant dean of the engineering school, and Humphries is 6'4", 262 pounds. The only documented dumb thing he ever did at Michigan occurred when he arrived as a freshman and was asked to fill out a form listing his "non-athletic activities, hobbies, interests." Wrote Humphries, "Swimming, tennis." In January, The Detroit News named him one of its 10 Michiganians of the Year, a list that included Lee Iacocca.

On the field, Humphries was, well, just as good. A three-year starter at offensive guard, he was an academic All-America twice, All-Big Ten twice and, last fall, AP first team All-America and a National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Scholar. His play was brilliant, slipping only occasionally to merely terrific. Schembechler once said that Humphries was the only player on the squad who never had a bad game. Actually, against Illinois last fall, Humphries faltered—by his own standards—when he had the angle of his blocks wrong, but that was a mere blip.

Interior offensive-line coach Paul Schudel says that in grading most players it's simply a matter of asking, "Did he make the block or not?" With Humphries, however, the criteria were more stringent because he would make the block. "In his case, he might block a guy downfield for two or three yards," says Schudel, "but I'll decide that wasn't good enough—for Stefan." Last season, Humphries' average blocking grade was 76. In the Wolverine system 70 is considered good and 75 excellent. During one stretch, Humphries graded out at 91, 82, 81, 81 and 79.

Over the years Michigan has had a host of superior offensive linemen, including Dan Dierdorf, Reggie McKenzie, Jon Geisler, Bubba Paris, Ed Muransky, Dave Gallagher, Mark Donahue, Walt Downing and George Lilja. None was better than Humphries. No wonder Schembechler pushes back in his chair, props his feet on his desk, puffs jauntily on an awful-smelling cigar and chortles, "He's just a beautiful kid."

A beautiful kid heading for medical school—either Michigan or Northwestern in the NFL off-season—who says he might specialize in pediatrics or orthopedics. If he chooses the latter, he may use his engineering background to design artificial limbs. Says Humphries, "I like to work with somebody who can talk to me and tell me if I'm helping." First, though, he'll help the Chicago Bears, who drafted him in the third round. Knocking around his Ann Arbor apartment on draft day in a green scrub outfit, he was asked just after hearing from the Bears on the phone, "Are you satisfied with this?"

"You know I'd never be satisfied with being third in anything," said Humphries, "but it gives me that much more to work for." As a third-round selection, he can expect to receive something like $375,000 spread over three years. But Humphries doesn't brood over such things. As Duderstadt says, "He never loses sight of the fact that his primary objective is a medical career. He knows that his scholarly ability will stay with him." As opposed to his lateral speed, which, too soon, will desert him.

Bill Tobin, the Bears' director of player personnel, says, "First, we like his intelligence. Second, we like his stability and ability." What Tobin doesn't say is, third, never mind that the NFL in its wisdom selected 70 players ahead of Humphries, he'll be an All-Pro. You can bet the house and spouse on that one.

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