Howard Almost Gave Up On Dream

After taking up the game of football as a senior in high school, Jamar Howard almost gave up the sport he found could help him reach his goals of getting a college education and show off his athletic skills. Now things have come full circle and Howard will return home in his long journey of self discovery.

In the fall of 2005 my good friend Ozie Davis III told me prior to Withrow High Schools opening game there was a new "Big Time" wide receiver playing at the Cincinnati, Ohio School. "Jamar Howard is the truth," Davis told me prior to me watching Howard play his first high school game. "I'm telling you Berk, this kid is big time and has all the tools."

Well as always my good friend was right as I watched Howard use his great athletic talents on the football field. He was raw but his overall physical size and athletic ability was there and I agreed Jamar Howard was one of the Midwest top talents no one knew about.

Soon after a few stories on Howard appeared college coaches started checking him out and the receiver saw Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Cincinnati all offer scholarships.

In the end Howard wanted to stay home and signed his Letter of Intent with Mark Dantonio and the Bearcats. Things were great for Howard from the day he arrived on campus and started working out.

Dantonio and the coaching staff saw they had a future star on their hands and fully expected to play Howard as a freshman. Not only did Mark Dantonio feel Howard was a future star but fellow recruit Marcus Barnett would give the Bearcats a two-headed monster at the position.

Once camp opened Howard showed he was skilled enough to play right away and was excited about the season opener in Nippert Stadium against Eastern Kentucky. Then the hammer fell and Howard wasn't sure what was going on.

"One day I'm on the team and the next I'm told I have to leave and not be a part of the team. At the time it was hard because I hadn't played football too long and had worked so hard getting ready I ended up stressing out and was going through a very hard time with everything I thought about getting out of football."

It was a good thing Howard had a change of heart and found a home in Junior College after taking some time off.

"I have a lot of people who've been in my corner. Coach Ozie and Coach Doc (Doc Gamble) and my other AAU Coaches have all be like uncles to me. They made some calls and showed me a path. The right path and right way to go about things and I'm very grateful to them all."

While Howard would find a home at the College of the Sequoias, his heart and soul remained in the Queen City along with many in his family.

"I always wanted to have the chance to come back to Cincinnati but it didn't look like it was going to happen. The coaching staff hadn't shown much interest and I was starting to get some really nice programs offering me. California, Oregon, Florida State, Illinois, Minnesota along with Coach Dantonio and Michigan State all offered me and I was looking at what program I wanted to go to."

But once the Bearcats showed interest Howard wasted little time in saying yes.

"It was a short and fast thing for me with Cincinnati. I have some big offers but I wanted to come home and once UC offered I knew I couldn't waste any time in taking them up on it. Coming home played a huge role in me making my decision when I did. I want to play at Cincinnati and show everyone what I'm capable of doing."

At 6-foot-4, 215-pounds with great speed Howard understands things are different with the Bearcats.

"When I was there UC was a running team, now, they run the spread and that is all I've ever played in. We were a spread team at Withrow and in Junior College we run the spread. So I should feel comfortable when I get there and I'm very excited about how the offense is now."

Like many Bearcat fans Howard was watching Saturday when the Bearcats beat West Virginia.

"Yea I was watching. It was a great and exciting game and I was very impressed with what I saw."

While Howard would love to get back in Cincinnati this winter or early spring he knows he's got a few things to do and fully expects to come home in May for good.

One thing is for certain is Howard has a strong support group who is also excited about his soon return home and showing you can overcome roadblocks in life with hard work.

"I've learned a lot over the past couple of years but the main thing I've learned is you've got to overcome the things in life that get in your way. I'm stronger now than when I left high school and can't wait to get started."

One thing for sure is Jamar Howard is not only excited about coming home but also fulfilling the commitment he made to Bearcat fans when he signed his letter of intent in February of 2006. I'm sure Bearcat fans will be just as excited to see Howard in the Red & Black next fall.

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