Stefan verbally committed himself to Michigan, but his heart belonged to Notre Dame. At one point he told Smith that he had changed his mind, that he was going to South Bend. Enter Thornton. Even though he personally favored Notre Dame, he sat Stefan down in the family room and, as always, set his son straight.
"You gave your commitment to Michigan and your word is all you have," he told Stefan. "Your word can't be bought or sold. I may suffer sometimes, but I stick by my word and so will you. So work it out. See, when I got married to your mother 26 years ago, I said it was for better or for worse and that's it. Sometimes it has been for the worse, but you don't walk away from your word. Your word is it." That was all Stefan needed to hear. He says now he decided to go to Michigan because, "I told Michigan I was coming and I wanted to be a man of my word."
Appropriately, Hump was also influenced by two non-football factors. First, he liked the idea that Michigan has a medical school on campus. When theology teacher Sullivan asked Stefan if he was going to play pro ball, he said, "Naw, I doubt it. I want to be a doctor." "You can take care of me anytime," said Sullivan. Perhaps more important, Hump thought his social life would be better at Michigan, which has many more black students than Notre Dame. "After all, I think college should be some fun," Stefan says.
Notre Dame Coach Dan Devine admits he wanted Humphries badly. "He's my kind of kid," says Devine. "He does things Heisman Trophy winners do." The Irish did get King, Stefan's friend and talented teammate, which prompted Hump to write Devine a long letter, asking him to "take especially good care of Cyrus." Another reason Stefan may have chosen Michigan is that he didn't want to overshadow his buddy in South Bend. And, says Stefan, there was one final factor: "When Coach Schembechler looked at me and said, 'I know Michigan is for you,' just the way he said it impressed me." McCartney, who headed the Wolverine recruiting effort, says, "Stefan's a complete young man. It's not often a player has that much talent and carries it that well. We're looking for immediate help from him. Why not? He has always demonstrated excellence, he has always risen to the occasion."
For all of Stefan's interests, nobody questions his love of football. "Sometimes when I'm playing, I think, 'Why am I out here beating up on guys? What's the purpose?' But I know why. I just love contact. And that team feeling." He fully subscribes to the philosophy of St. Thomas Kicking Coach Ed (Doc) Storey, who has written, "There is something in good men that really yearns for...needs...discipline and the harsh reality of head-to-head combat.... I believe that any man's finest hour is the moment when he worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle, victorious."
Dinner is over and Stefan gets up, clears his dishes off the table and rinses them. Of course. Now he is pondering the question of whether he can start as a freshman at Michigan. "The nice thing," he says, "is that it's not up to them whether I start, it's up to me." Good heavens, could it be that Stefan is, at last, a true student-athlete.
"Well, with anybody, you should temper your applause," says Father Kelly. "So far he has responded, but maybe he could have done more. He has the potential for failing, if only because the line between success and failure is so thin." So might you fail, Stefan? His mouth says "Yes," but his bloodline indicates "No chance."
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