Coach Howell Takes Over Defensive Backs

With the departure of Coach Hill, the duties of teaching and developing the secondary now fall upon the shoulders of first-time assistant coach Nick Howell. Only a graduate assistant a year ago, Coach Howell is now coaching his second position group at BYU.

Going from GA to first-time assistant coach of one position, only to be switched to coach of a different position after five games, seems like an intimidating task. But though it might be a challenge, it isn't something Coach Howell is going to run from.

"Yeah, I'm up for it and that's what Coach Mendenhall wants me to do," said Coach Howell. "I'm going to try as hard as I can. I've had training in the secondary here the three years previous that I've been here as a GA. I've gone back and fourth from the secondary to the linebackers, and so yeah, I'm excited."

Coach Howell spent some time under the tutelage of Coach Hill, soaking up as much information as he could.

"In that time I learned a tremendous amount from Coach Hill in how to teach those requirements needed to be a good secondary," said Coach Howell. "I've tried to learn a tremendous amount from all the coaches that I'm around, so anybody that is teaching football I try to learn [from]. So Coach Hill as a mentor? Yeah, and I've tried to learn from him as well as the other coaches.

"What I try to do is just in our defensive staff room, and in our staff room all together, we have a lot of football knowledge in there," continued Coach Howell. "I try to draw from all the knowledge in there, and so I try to draw from things I see other people doing that I like and I see work and their style within our own staff.

"We study outside our staff as well, and we do professional development outside our staff during the offseason. And so that's part of it and I would say we do more of that though in our staff with outside staffs, and then I would say just your own personal study of the game and other teams and how other teams are running things. It's kind of a conglomeration of things. As a teacher you're always learning and as a learner you're always finding ways to teach."

When one teaches a principle, they are also gaining a greater understanding of that principle. As a new coach at BYU, Coach Howell has found that general knowledge becomes practical.

"If you can get up there and teach it, then you're obviously reinforcing it to yourself," he said. "So that's part of it too, and we've got good kids, really good kids, and they try extremely hard and they try hard and their hearts are right. It's been fun."

So what are some of those challenges Coach Howell will face as BYU's newest - and youngest - assistant coach?

"I don't think there is just one challenge in particular," he said. "I think, you know, we have to work on executing and work on effort. We have to also work on fundamentals while having fun, so I think those things we need to work on. There's not one more than the other. It's just kind of one all in a group, and so that's kind of the battle that we're having."

Coaching is challenging, but it's also rewarding.

"I would just say [the most rewarding part is] watching kids go out that have practiced hard, and watching kids that have a real belief and then watching them be successful," said Coach Howell. "I wouldn't say there's one particular moment, but there have been moments this year where I've seen a kid that has tried hard and really believes what Coach Mendenhall is trying to do despite what has happened this year. Then you see the success of that kid's effort come to fruition, and man, you just feel it in your heart."

Along with the task of developing players, another big part of coaching is recruiting. It's a part of coaching that Coach Howell enjoys.

"Last spring was my first time recruiting. I'm recruiting in California and the coast area and in Northern Utah, and so different kids here and there, and it's a good experience. When you go out and recruit and you can share the BYU message and can tell a kid what we have to offer and see if they want to be a part of that, it's fun. It's all about sharing the message we have and it's fun. I'm really enjoying it."

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