Sun Valley (Monroe, N.C.) quarterback Sam Howell received his All-American Bowl jersey Monday morning at his school as part of the All-American Bowl Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance.
“It feels good. I’s something I’ve dreamed of for a real long time, ever since I started watching the game,” Howell told USA TODAY before this morning’s ceremony at Sun Valley High. “It’s definitely a dream come true.
“I’m just excited. I’m real excited for the ceremony, I’m real excited to get down there and compete with the best in the country.”
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Howell, a Florida State commit, is ranked by 247 Sports as the No. 2 overall prospect in North Carolina, and the nation’s No. 3 overall pro-style quarterback. Back in the summer, USA TODAY High School Sports named Howell as one of the 12 must-see quarterbacks to watch this fall.
So far this fall for the 7-2 Spartans, Howell has lived up to the billing. With Howell carrying the load, the Spartans are heavy on run-pass option plays. It’s reflected well on the stat sheet for Howell, completing 62 percent of his passes for 2,308 yards and 28 touchdowns to just five interceptions; he also leads the Spartans in every rushing category (102 carries, 918 yards, 10 TDs).
Anybody who’s watched Carson Wentz or Cam Newton run RPO’s at the pro level knows this approach can be physically taxing on a quarterback with even the sturdiest build. But Howell relishes the role. His favorite read? The one that lets him air it downfield:
Florida State has woefully underperformed in its first year under new head coach Willie Taggart, sitting at 4-4 after last weekend’s 59-10 loss to Clemson at Doak Campbell Stadium, its worst home loss in program history. But while other 2019 recruits have decommitted over the last few months, Howell remains steadfastly on board — and upbeat. He was at the Clemson game for an unofficial visit, will take his official to Tallahassee for the Seminoles’ game against Florida on Nov. 24, and plans on signing with FSU in December.
“I don’t think anyone expected him [Taggart] to come out and win 10 games this year,” Howell said. “It’s definitely going to take a little bit for him, you know, [getting] some more players that do what he wants to do.
“All of his players aren’t his guys — they’re Jimbo [Fisher]’s guys. Not they’re not good players obviously, but [Taggart] he still needs to get more guys in his program that are going to fit his mold. I’m definitely optimistic about the future. He’ll have Florida State back to where it’s supposed to be in the next few years.”
The All-American Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 5 in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and will be televised live on NBC at 1 p.m. EST.