Friday Night Hero: Salisbury's Sam Humble
By Ryan Bisesi
SALISBURY — Sam Humble stands 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, yet carries himself in a cautious, controlled manner.
“I’d be surprised if you get much out of him,” Salisbury coach Joe Pinyan says to a reporter.
That’s off the field, of course.
In Friday night’s 24-17 first-round playoff win against Winston-Salem Carver, Humble was all the over place and noticeable from wherever you sat at Ludwig Stadium. At defensive tackle, he ended up with seven quarterback hurries, six tackles and a deflected pass.
“By far, his best effort,” Pinyan said. “It came at a time when we really needed it.”
Last year, Humble ran around the field with comparable tenacity, but as a soccer player.
Humble wasn’t in Winston-Salem last December when the Hornets clinched their first state title. He juggled football and soccer at first, before quitting football in the middle of the season. Now he’s hoping Salisbury can reach the same heights it did last year so he can get a taste of greatness. While most of the Hornets are defending their state title, Humble is still pursuing one.
“I feel like I have a better chance of playing football at the next level,” Humble said. “I missed it.”
Salisbury is heading to higher seed Starmount on Friday and the Hornets will need their stout defense as much as it needs its dynamic run game.
As a defensive lineman, it’s all pain and little fame. Disrupting the backfield, containing the quarterback to the pocket and taking up blockers aren’t glamorous assignments. However, Humble prefers playing defense and it shows.
“There’s a fine line where they’ve got to slow things down and keep the ball on the inside shoulder,” Pinyan said. “At the same time, you’ve got to apply pressure to the quarterback.”
Max Allen and the Salisbury running game were getting all the accolades against Carver, Humble was making sure the Yellow Jackets had no rushing of their own. Carver had just 58 yards on the ground and was shut out in the first half. When the Yellow Jackets were making their final attempt to tie the game in the last minute, Humble knew the defensive stop of the year was imminent. Dejoun Jones, another senior, came up with an interception in the end zone with 9.6 seconds left.
“I had confidence in our defense that we would hold them,” Humble said.
With Friday’s effort by Humble, Pinyan saw a good player on the field and maybe a better player down the line.
“To me, I think he’s a great Division II or Division III prospect,” Pinyan said. “He can run. He’s got great size. He’s going to get bigger. His upside is really good.”
Containing Carver quarterback Madison Mills to the pocket was no easy feat. Mills came alive in the second half and finished with 228 yards passing. Mills was held to 20 yards rushing.
Freshman year was Humble’s first experience playing organized football. He played as an offensive linemen his sophomore year.
Humble returned this fall and has developed a back-and-forth with defensive coach Scotty Robinson. Robinson, a standout defensive lineman at Salisbury and contributor at East Carolina, has mentored Humble into one of the more formidable threats for the Hornets.
“Sam’s a sponge,” Robinson said. “He soaks up everything. You see him in practice and he’s working as hard as anybody.”
“I’ve gotten a lot better this year because of [Robinson],” Humble said. “He knows how to communicate with players.”