Past Due

Florida State defensive end <b>Charles Howard</b> has plenty to be excited about these days. For starters, his son <b>Dominic Howard</b> celebrated his third birthday on Wednesday. Howard also is a semester shy of becoming the first person in his family to earn a collegiate degree. And, to top it off, Howard is determined to help the Seminoles accomplish their goal of winning a national championship. Click here for an update.

Little Dominic Howard was waiting patiently for his father, Florida State defensive end Charles Howard.

Hand-in-hand moments later, the pair was headed home following the Seminoles' summer conditioning drills on Thursday.

Little Guy and Big Guy made a handsome pair.

"We always argue over that," Charles Howard said with a wide smile and hearty laugh when asked if he was thankful Dominic looked like his mother.

"I think he gets his good looks from me."

Any debate aside, the personable Howard is concentrating on the future. And he has plenty to be excited about concerning family, education and football.

"Right now I am really focusing on, not only working out, but I am so close to graduation -- only 12 hours short and that's tasty right now. That's tasty," Howard said.

"I will be the first one in my family to achieve a college degree. I will graduate in December (criminology) if everything works out."

Howard, a former standout at Union County in Lake Butler, realizes the importance of school for obvious reasons.

"I have a son who just turned three on Wednesday and he has to be guaranteed," Howard said. "This ol' body is going to be weary one day and I have to have something to fall back on."

At the moment, however, Howard is focused on the upcoming football season. Two-a-day practices begin next month in preparation for the Seminoles' season opener against rival Miami.

Credited as being one of the most effective pass rushers on the defensive line by teammates and coaches, Howard has split time during his career playing defensive end and defensive tackle in long yardage situations.

He played in all 13 games last season and had 24 tackles.

Despite losing interior linemen Darnell Dockett and Jeff Womble and end Kevin Emanuel, Howard likes his unit's potential.

"I definitely think this can be one of the best defensive units since I've been here," Howard said.

"To me, it reminds me a lot of that unit with Roland Seymour, Jamal (Reynolds) and all those guys because there's so much athleticism on the line. We are deep on the ends. We've picked up an extra tackle, and we are deep there. As long as we continue to work hard like we've been doing, we will be alright. Not alright. We are going to be good."

Howard also is viewed as the consummate team player.

"A lot of people talk about starting and what you deserve and what you've earned over the years," said Howard, who ranked fourth on the team last season with four sacks and also had six tackles for loss and seven quarterback pressures.

"My personal goal is to get on that field and hit the quarterback and put him on his butt as many times as I can. I don't want to let him through my fingers one time. If I get 30 shots at him, he's going down 30 times.

"My personal goal is to get as much playing time as I can and do whatever I can do to contribute to achieving a national championship. I feel it's way past due."

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