Ben Humphreys, 16, of Newport Beach, will be a junior at Mater Dei High. Last season, Humphreys played basketball and football for the Monarchs, but recently has decided to focus just on playing football this coming season. (KEVIN CHANG, Daily Pilot / July 15, 2013)

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With regard to every day, every practice, every play it seems Ben Humphreys is bombarded with choices to make.

The decisions hound him, as he realizes each step can be pivotal for a future in football. As he enters an important junior year at Mater Dei High, there are sometimes he must say no when so many others his age say yes even when the temptations are so enticing while growing up in Newport Beach.

Before the summer began, the 16-year-old made yet another tough decision. The two-sport athlete dropped basketball to make sure to go all out in football as a receiver and linebacker for the Monarchs.

"I love both sports," Humphreys said of basketball and football, the sports he earned varsity letters in last year. "But the summer stuff was just too much, especially with passing leagues and the morning practices. Part of the reason, I just wanted to be a kid. Have some free time for once. But with football I still don't have a lot of free time."

These days it is difficult and challenging for an athlete to take on multiple sports. Humphreys understands this. The decision he made wasn't just for this season, but also for the summer of 2014. He wants to be established as a key contributor for Mater Dei by then.

"I want to get bigger, faster and stronger and become a senior leader," Humphreys says.

That desire has been a primary source of motivation throughout his childhood in Newport Beach, where he excelled in football, baseball, basketball, soccer and track and field.

It isn't a surprise to many that Humphreys is on a path to greatness.

He comes from a strong athletic background. His mother, Wendy, was a standout volleyball player when her last name was Rush while at Newport Harbor and then at Lake Arrowhead Rim of the World high schools. She went on to become a four-time All-American at Stanford and is in the Cardinal's Hall of Fame. While at Stanford, she met her husband, Brad, who played football.

Their first-born, daughter Kelsey, was a standout setter at Corona del Mar High and is headed to Stanford as a freshman. There's also Ashley, 13, who competes in volleyball, and there's also excitement for John, 11, a Newport Beach Little League All-Star who is already 5-foot-6.

Ben Humphreys, who is 6-foot-3, smiles when he talks about his "little" brother. He knows there is also great potential for John if he continues to work like his older brother.

Older brother definitely works. There is hardly an off day for Ben Humphreys.

In addition to workouts, practices, passing-league games, weightlifting and watching film with Mater Dei, Humphreys works with a speed and specialty coach, Karif Byrd. Humphreys also competes in special football camps.

All of the work has been paying off. He has packed on 15 pounds since last season and is up to 195 pounds. He also lowered his 40-yard-dash time, going from 4.6 seconds to now, 4.4.

Last year, he played some time as a slot receiver and was also inserted on defense for special packages. He wants to be ready to contribute more this season for a team that reached the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 championship game.

"I don't want people thinking that last year was a fluke," Humphreys said. "Coming off that loss in [the] CIF [final], we want to prove that we are for real."

He's also out to prove that he's no fluke, or certainly avoid from being labeled as an injury-prone athlete.

Humphreys has had his fair share of injuries. In 2009, when he was in the seventh grade, he had to miss the Orange County Junior All-American Super Bowl because of an injury suffered during a kick-off in the previous game.

He was left with a dislocated kneecap and a stretched ligament in his knee. There was no surgery required but he had to rehab and refrain from competing for six months.

It was difficult for him to miss the Newport-Mesa Seahawks' big game. As the quarterback, he led the Seahawks to a 12-0 record before they lost in the Super Bowl without him.