The advice she received along the way during her LSU track career was to take advantage of every opportunity and make memories.
Senior Brittley Humphrey has embraced such recommendations all the way to the final meet of her collegiate career where the Hoover, Ala. native will compete for her first national title in the 400 hurdles in Saturday’s NCAA outdoor championships at approximately 6:27 p.m. at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
“It seems like I wasn’t here that long,” Humphrey said. “I remember my freshman and junior year and seeing how the seniors were and everyone said the same thing. It flies by so quick. I’m happy and proud of my whole LSU career.”
She’s literally saved the best for last where Humphrey captured her first Southeastern Conference title May 15 at Texas A&M, advanced through the NCAA’s East Preliminaries in Jacksonville, Fla. two weeks ago and concluded her career at Saturday’s NCAA outdoor championship, where after turning in the second fastest qualifying time, placed ninth (57.51) at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
She’s been here before where after finishing second at the SEC championships in 2019, Humphrey qualified in two events for the NCAA meet and after running leg on a 12th place 4×400 relay team, she was in contention for an individual title in the 400 hurdles where she finished third (56.11) to USC’s Anna Cockrell (55.23) and Colorado’s Gabby Scott (56.04).
“You have to have a lot of heart and grit in that race,” Humphrey said. “That’s kind of my specialty. In the 100, I’m not the fastest. There’s endurance, heart and grit. You don’t practice that. It’s something that’s my strong suit and that’s why I’m successful in the 400 hurdles.”
With the end of her college career Saturday, Humphrey looked forward to seeing several of the familiar faces in attendance for support, much like they’ve been along her journey.
Her parents Bobby and Barbara Humphrey represent athletic royalty in the state of Alabama where Bobby concluded his football career as one of the top running backs in the history of the University of Alabama, while her mother starred in track at the Alabama-Birmingham.
They were both on hand at the SEC championships, along with her older brother Marlon, a former Alabama All-American and fifth-year cornerback for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens who selected him 16th overall in the 2017 draft.
Her older brother Maudrecus started his football career at Arkansas before transferring and finishing at UAB, her older sister Breona also ran track at UAB, while her youngest sibling, Marion, signed with San Diego University where he played basketball for two seasons.
“Growing up and having them as my role models motivated me to want to do sports,” said Brittley, the next-to-youngest of the five Humphrey children. “Seeing what great athletes they’ve turned out to be really motivated me and made me realize that I could do it too. They’ve all been supportive and encouraging over the years.”
Like her siblings before her Brittley Humphrey gravitated toward sports growing up in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover where other than playing basketball in middle school, she flourished in track from an early age.
She won consecutive Alabama state titles in the 100 and 300 hurdles as a freshman and sophomore at Hoover High and wound up as a 12-time state champion (both indoor and outdoor) – including four straight in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles. She was also a 20-time state medalist covering an array of events such as the 400 meters, 100, 200, heptathlon, long jump and triple jump.
She left Hoover High as the fourth Humphrey to be recognized as the Birmingham Kiwanis Club’s Athlete of the Year.
Given the distinct pedigree for red, white and houndstooth in her household it appeared a logical choice Brittley to continue her track career in Tuscaloosa, but that wasn’t the case.
She said she had long affinity for LSU that was driven home by the 2011 SEC championship in which she attended and Tyrann Mathieu’s MVP performance captivated her in the Tigers’ 42-10 victory over Georgia.
Further research into LSU’s ultra-successful track program which produced such stars as hurdler Lolo Jones and was built around the success of its sprinters and hurdlers further cinched her choice.
Humphrey took official visits to Alabama, Florida State, Clemson and LSU where she signed with Tigers.
“When I saw Tyrann Mathieu play he introduced me to the swag of it,” she said. “I thought the school seemed fun. As I looked deeper, I saw all these great athletes, especially in the sprints and hurdles, had gone there and I just knew that I would elevate as an athlete if I went to LSU and when I took my visit it confirmed everything. It was so perfect.
“My family knew that I liked LSU growing up,” she said. “By the end of middle school, I was always talking about it. It wasn’t a shock to them. To everybody it may have seemed that way with a dad and brother that went to Alabama.”
Brittley said she wasn’t aware of her dad’s place in Alabama football lore until a middle school classmate made her aware of some of the exploits of her famous father.
When Bobby Humphrey concluded his college career at Alabama, his final year derailed by a broken foot, he was the school’s leading rusher with 3,420 yards with 33 touchdowns. He currently ranks third behind Derrick Henry (3,591) and Shaun Alexander (3,565) to go along with 60 pass receptions for 523 yards and seven touchdowns and added 1,015 yards of kick returns for 4,985 career all-purpose yards.
He spent three years with the Denver Broncos, playing in both the 1990 Super Bowl and Pro Bowl, before moving to the Miami Dolphins for two years and one year on the practice squad with the Buffalo Bills in 1995.
His five-year, injury-marred NFL resulted in 2,857 rushing yards and 15 TDs.
“My dad never talked about him playing football,” Brittley said of Bobby Humphrey, a 2004 inductee in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. “I had friends tell me of all of his accomplishments. I asked him about it, and I would see clips or things on social media about Derrick Henry breaking my dad’s records. I’m not sure why he did that because he was humble, or he didn’t want to boast around us.”
Barbara Humphrey, who’s served on the Alabama Board of Trustees, created her own niche in track at Jackson-Olin High before attending UAB where she set a school record that still exits of 52 seconds in the 400 meters in 1986.
“I’m thinking if my mom can do it, I can do it, but I still haven’t beaten her time,” said Brittley, whose earned her degree in Spanish. “I haven’t run the 400 in two years, but I hadn’t been able to beat her time in a 4×400 (relay) split. There’s no way she’s that much faster than me. We have the same genes.”
Marlon Humphrey added further acclaim to the family’s name, first during a standout career at Hoover High where he was also named a USA Today All-American in track and field. He won a silver medal at the 2013 World Youth Championships in the 110-meter hurdles in the Ukraine.
Marlon went on to help Alabama win a football national championship in 2015 and was named a first team All-American a year later. With the Ravens, where he’s started in 43 of 61 games and registered 211 tackles and eight interceptions, he’s also played in the 2019 Pro Bowl.
“The fact that they’re football and I’m track really helps a lot,” Brittley said of the LSU/Alabama rivalry. “My dad’s been super supportive and with Marlon’s the support’s been through the roof. They’ll come to my track meets and they’ll actually wear purple. I think I saw my dad wearing an LSU shirt once. They’ll really all in.”