Fowler, Humphries use long road to UF pro day

Coming to Gainesville as high school All-Americans, defensive end Dante Fowler and offensive tackle D.J. Humphries lined up across from each other on their first day of practice in Gainesville the fall before the 2012 season.

Both players say they remember exactly what happened on that play, even if they have different opinions on who actually won the first drill.

Dante Fowler claims he easily won it. D.J. Humphries, asked about it just minutes later, said he was ready to head to the film room and find tape to prove that he actually won.

As the two continued to improve throughout their three-year Florida careers, it was their daily work against each other on the practice field that turned both into possible first-round picks in this month’s NFL Draft.

“It was the type of deal where Dante and I would laugh and crack jokes,” Humphries said. “Our lockers were right across from each other, so we would laugh and joke all day. As soon as we got on the field, our whole mentality changes to where ‘you better bring your lunch pail today, or I’m going to make him look bad out here.’ That’s the type of conversations we used to have with each other. It made us better players throughout it.”

There was no question Fowler was going to be a first round pick when he announced he would enter the NFL Draft after his junior season. Humphries was the one that was surrounded with questions. He struggled to keep his weight over 300 pounds during his three seasons at Florida, and his performance was inconsistent at times.

As NFL teams got to watch more of his film and saw him weigh in at 307 sounds at the NFL combine, Humphries’ stock started to increase. Fowler was asked what it was like to see Humphries talked about in the first round, causing the defensive end to scream at Humphries and ask him what his stock was doing. After a shy grin, Humphries looked over his shoulder and said, “up, up and away.”

Teams as high as the 15-20 range in the NFL Draft have shown interest, and most draft experts believe Humphries could be a first round selection.

“To see him getting the accolades he deserves, it feels great,” Fowler said. “I know a lot of people had a lot of ifs and doubts about him coming out, but seeing how hard he’s been working all season and seeing him get his weight up, he looks scary at 300 pounds. He looks good though. He can really move.”

Both players are much different than they were during that first rep almost two-and-a-half years ago. The added weight for Humphries has made a big difference, and even Fowler is up to 265 pounds, capable of playing defensive end or as an edge rushing linebacker.

Tuesday brought those memories back to their minds, but it also gave both players one final chance to get on the playing surface at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

“This is home,” Fowler said, looking over the heads of reporters and surveying The Swamp. “It’s home field advantage. Being able to be here and step back down with cleats on in The Swamp, I think about it every day. I think about it because I know I was a junior and could’ve come back, but a lot of great things are happening for me now. I’m happy with my decision, but that thought of me coming back is like “wow.” It would’ve been cool.”

Video Credit: GatorVision

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