Humphries gets his titlePublished 9:06am Thursday, January 20, 2011
The dream has always had the same finish for Chris Humphries.
For as long as the former Brewer Patriots standout can remember, he was on the field with his Auburn teammates celebrating a national championship.
Humphries’ dream is reality now after Humphries and the Tigers put the final touches on a perfect season with a 22-19 victory over Oregon in the BCS national championship game Monday night on the University of Phoenix campus.
“Winning a national championship as a member of the Auburn football team is something that I’ve daydreamed about all my life, even when I was just a little boy,” Humphries said two days after the Tigers’ win over the Ducks. “I always saw myself on that field when we won the national title.
“Now, when I get older and have grandkids, I will be able to tell them that I was a part of Auburn’s second national championship.”
Humphries, a walk-on who has lettered twice for the Tigers, played on the Tigers’ special teams unit Monday night to cap an improbable drive to achieving a lifelong dream.
Humphries was not highly recruited out of Brewer after the Patriots had several lackluster years. In fact, his only offer came from a small school in Tennessee.
The dream came true Monday when Auburn’s Wes Byrum kicked a 19-yard field goal as time expired to set off a wild celebration from Tigers’ players and coaches on the field.
Humphries quickly looked for his family – his parents Randy and Kim Humphries were in the stands, along with his grandfather Carol Humphries and brothers Jamie, Nick and Caleb.
“They were all in the Auburn family section but they were about 50 rows up,” Humphries said. “I was trying to yell to them but they couldn’t hear me, so I just hopped a fence and went into the stands to be with them.”
The Auburn team arrived in Montgomery a day after the game before busing to a rousing welcome at the Tigers’ football facility.
“There were a lot of people at the airport in Montgomery when we landed, but it was even bigger once we got back to campus,” Humphries said. “There was a huge crowd and it felt just like a Tiger Walk on the day of a game. It was really awesome.
“I might have gotten a one-hour nap after the game. We were all too excited to sleep.”
But the return to Auburn pales in comparison to the excitement on the field Monday night.
After a week of work in Arizona in the desert, Auburn went to work.
“This year was a lot different than when we went to the Outback Bowl last year,” Humphries said. “We just had a completely different mindset.
“That was a bowl game, this was for the national championship. It was much more business-like. People stayed in at night and tried to stay focused on what we were trying to accomplish in Arizona.”
Using that business approach, Auburn took a 19-11 lead early in the third quarter on a Byrum field goal and it looked like the Tigers would be able to rely on a staunch defense to seal up the championship.
Oregon managed to tie the game with 2:36 remaining in the game on a Darron Thomas touchdown pass to LaMichael James and added a two-point conversion to tie the game at 19-19.
“I was thinking that overtime was possible when Oregon scored to tie the game,” Humphries said. “But I always felt that we were going to win the game. Overtime or double overtime, it didn’t matter. We were going to win that game. We have the best coaches, we have the best players.”
That attitude was a common thread to Auburn’s season where the Tigers needed late rallies to win several games, including an incredible comeback in the regular season finale against rival Alabama.
“I knew we had the talent to (win the national championship),” Humphries said. “We knew that this team definitely had the talent to play for a national championship.”
Along the way, the Tigers were hit with controversy surrounding the status of quarterback Cam Newton after allegations that his father was involved in a pay-to-play scheme at Missississippi State.
That controversy, however, never derailed the Auburn players’ mission.
“There was really no controversy around the team,” Humphries said. “Winning the national championship was all we talked about. We all stood behind each other.”