Like any father of a high school senior, Leonard Humphries knew he had to let his son make the college choice that was best for him—regardless of Humphries’ connection to his own alma mater.
“I wanted him to approach the process with an open mind, look at everything that’s out there and make a determination,” Humphries says. “He might not like the same things I like. What was good for me 30 years ago, I didn’t know if it was going to be good for him.”
And so, the senior Humphries insists, there was was no pressure. But there was hope. “I just hoped that he understood what I know about Penn State, and what a great university it is.”
Leonard’s hope was officially rewarded on Wednesday, when Isaiah Humphries, a safety from the Dallas suburbs of Rowlett, signed on as part of a Nittany Lion recruiting class that ranks among the best in the nation. He’s also the latest to join a proud Penn State legacy of sons who follow fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and older brothers in donning the blue and white
It should go without saying here, of course, but Leonard Humphries ’92 was a standout defensive back for the Nittany Lions in the early ’90s who went on to play in the NFL and CFL. He eventually settled with his family in the Dallas area, a long way from Happy Valley—but, when it came to imagining their kids’ future, not so far out of mind. Isaiah’s mom, Jennifer, shared a childhood keepsake on Twitter this week that spoke to the parents’ hopes, way back when.
Leonard laughs at the memory. “When she found them, I was like, ‘Oh, shoot, I remember those,'” he says. “Who knows when your kid’s a toddler what they’re going to be? But for her to be able to pull those out, and remember saying ‘maybe one day he’ll follow in your footsteps,’ it’s definitely a great honor for me.”
Acknowledging how different Penn State is from the university he left 25 years ago, Leonard says it’s the things that haven’t changed that made him excited for his son to follow his path—and confirmed his own connection to his alma mater. “We’re still the university that has guys who are more academically inclined,” he says. “Going to Penn State, you know that you’re going to be challenged in the classroom, and you’re also going to have the opportunity to play great football. It’s still the Penn State mindset. I don’t think that’s changed.”
As for the program itself, Leonard says, “The people, the coaching staff, are just very genuine people. And the team itself, they’re good guys, the kind of guys I’d want my son to be around.”
The same qualities, in other words, that drew Leonard Humphries here as a highly touted recruit all those years ago. Turns out Penn State was more than good enough for his son, too.