By Chris Sylvester
Note: This story originally appeared in the Cal Poly vs. U. San Diego football game program on August 31.
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Redshirt senior safety Kitu Humphrey leads a Cal Poly defense loaded with experience and talent into a 2019 season he hopes results in the Mustangs' first playoff berth since 2016. A graduate of high school football national power house Long Beach Poly, Humphrey aspires to play beyond his college eligibility.
Q: It's been a long journey for you with this program. You've seen both sides of the spectrum. A playoff berth and successful 2016 season as a redshirt freshman, a one-win season in 2017, then a promising step back in the right direction in 2018. Heading into your final season as a Mustang, what's your expectation for the 2019 team?
A: Having been to the postseason before, I have a good feel for what it takes to be a playoff team. Leadership was a huge factor in 2016 when we went to the playoffs. We have a lot of guys on this team who can help us get back there and make a run at winning the whole thing.
Q: This defense went through its ups and downs last season while learning the system and adjusting to the speed of college football. Now that everyone is a year older and more confident, what are you expecting from this 2019 Cal Poly Defense?
A: It's tough for young guys to come in and thrive on defense at this level right away. Getting adjusted to the speed of the game in the Big Sky isn't easy, but I felt like we made some strides down the stretch of 2018. I expect our underclassmen to take a huge step forward and our senior returners to blow things out of the water.
Q: What type of leadership role have you taken on this 2019 team as a fifth-year senior?
A: I felt like I've always been a leader since I got here, but being a captain and having that title helps the young guys know who to look up to. I aspire to keep playing how I've played and lead by example.
Q: You come from an area in Southern California where you've played with and against a lot of guys who have gone on to the NFL. What are some goals you have for yourself this season to help propel yourself into an opportunity to play professionally?
A: My goal is to win a Big Sky championship and national championship. Guys on winning teams in college tend to stand out more when it comes to getting to the NFL. I told myself a long time ago that I was going to get to the highest level and I'm gonna put my best foot forward. I need to force a lot of turnovers and play on the ball more this year. It was the focal point of my offseason.
Q: Not very many players get to be a team captain for two years. Your thoughts?
A: I think it's an honor. I appreciate the coaches for believing and trusting in my leadership abilities to that extent. Having that title comes with a great responsibility to live up to being someone who has been a captain for two years. I have to conduct myself in a manner that is always on point with everything I do. It is something I've earned through my hard work and consistency over my years here, so I think if I stick to the script with that formula, I'll be fine.
Q: How would you describe your five years at Cal Poly?
A: I would describe my years at Cal Poly as years of growth. When I evaluate every aspect of life that has been important for me in college, I've grown in all areas as a result of being here.
Chris Sylvester is the Voice of the Mustangs