ATHENS — Julio Humphrey wanted to clear up any confusion.

He is named Julian Humphrey. But growing up, he played wide receiver and his favorite player was Julio Jones. So everyone began calling him Julio, even after making the switch to defensive back and becoming a promising young defensive back for the Bulldogs.

Humphrey also shed light on his decision to announce that he would be entering the transfer portal, only for him to end up back at Georgia.

Humphrey is from the Houston area and told reporters that the distance from home weighed on him during the 2023 season.

“Me going back home, we had like a week off after the bowl game and it kind of hit me,” Humphrey said. “I’m back at home, I barely get to see my people. It was just like, ‘Okay, now it’s time for me to go in if I wanted to make that kind of decision to be close to my family.’

“Or I could stay up here (Georgia) and keep doing what I was doing. So when I went in the portal, of course the coaches were calling me, texting me. We spoke and everything, sat down and talked about the bigger picture besides just me going back to be close to home.”

Humphrey made significant strides at Georgia as a redshirt freshman. With Kamari Lassiter limited in practice due to a lingering foot injury, Humphrey saw a lot of reps over the course of the season.

He had a big impact in Georgia’s win over Missouri. Lassiter followed star Missouri receiver Luther Burden, which cleared a path to the field for Humphrey.

“The week leading up to the Mizzou game we had this new formation going in, and I knew I was going to play that game so that whole week, I was like locked in and getting ready to play,” Humphrey said. “Whenever they called it, I went in. Like I said, practices are harder than the games so I knew if I was doing good in practice, when the game would come, it wouldn’t be a huge difference. I just went out there and did what I did, trusted my technique and it was good.”

But the following week, Humphrey broke his collarbone against Ole Miss. That knocked him out for the remainder of the season and gave Humphrey a lot to think about.

Smart understood Humphrey’s plight. It’s becoming a more common occurrence these days, with players jumping in and out of the portal. Humphrey wasn’t the only Georgia cornerback to do so, as Daniel Harris made a similar move during the lead up to the Florida State game.

“I think kids, a lot of times, we try to communicate with our kids really well, be up front with our kids,” Smart said. “That is the nature of the beast. They turn on their phones and see other people doing it. It becomes a trend. It is like anything else in social media. If he is doing it then why shouldn’t I be doing it? Is the grass greener on the other side? Sometimes they don’t know. Sometimes they are getting reached out to by other places. Maybe they should be, but that is just the nature of the beast.”

With Lassiter moving on to the NFL, Georgia has an open spot at the cornerback position that Humphrey can now step into. His speed is a major attribute, as Humphrey points out he is one of the fastest players on the team.

He’ll be competing with Harris, Daylen Everette and Ellis Robinson for playing time, starting this spring.

“He has had a good spring practice so far. I hope that continues,” Smart said. “He’s hungry. We have good competition going on at corner. We don’t look at it as two corners. We look at it as if there are four corners that can play, one of them is going to also play STAR. They will all play. The more winning football players we can have at corner, the better off our team can be.”

Humphrey knows he is making a sacrifice to be at Georgia. He believes the choice to return to Georgia will be rewarded with a strong season and further development of his game. Georgia routinely puts cornerbacks into the NFL, with Lassiter next off the assembly line.

Humphrey believes Georgia is the best place for him to develop. And he’s glad he’ll continue his development in Athens.

“Why leave the best school that can give you everything you need to get to the next level? Just to leave because a few bucks from another school that they can offer me,” Humphrey said. “I was just like, it’s important for me to stay here and get the development. Georgia gets you ready for the NFL, and it’s been proven. I want to be a part of that.”

Julio Humphrey shares why he returned to Georgia