"When I was here, it seemed like I was here forever," Howard said.
"Now that I am gone, it's like I wasn't here long enough. I really like the camaraderie (at FSU). You don't see that (in the NFL). Everybody is about their own business. That's the one thing I miss, the camaraderie of the team. I miss being around the guys."
Howard, the team's third-leading tackler last season from his safety position, is hoping to make it in the NFL. Howard signed as a free agent with the Detroit Lions in April and believes he fared well in a pair of mini-camps. Howard is one of 13 players listed on the team's depth chart in the secondary, and one of four safeties. Detroit opens camp July 22 for quarterbacks, selected veterans and rookies.
"We've had a couple of mini-camps and I think I did real well in those," said Howard, born and raised in nearby Quincy. "The team is excited about me and I am excited about being there."
The personable Howard believes he's ready for NFL challenges, thanks in large part to FSU. Howard credited the Seminoles' system and the coaching staff, namely defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.
"I've been doing what I was taught to do here," said the 215-pound Howard, who worked at both safety and strong safety in mini-camp.
"As you can see, playing football here -- the difference between here and other colleges is it (FSU) really gets you ready for the next level. That's to my advantage right now. Now that I've been in a pro program. ... everything we are doing here, we do there (at Detroit). From the meetings to the practices. It's really to your advantage.
"When I was there (for mini-camp), I was like, 'That's all we have to do.' They are going, 'What you are talking about, it's a full practice.' I am like, 'No it ain't (laughing)." (FSU prepares you) mentally and physically."
Howard said he has improved his strength and quickness in preparation for the NFL. Howard also believes he's in a good situation with Detroit, which feature a new team headquarters, training facility and field (Ford Field).
Still, it's not expected to be easy for Howard.
The free agent has a pair of veterans to compete with at safety in Corey Harris and Bracy Walker. Both were recently signed as unrestricted free agents. Harris, 5-11, 200, has played in 154 games (63 starts), plus 11 playoff games (five starts), during his 10-year NFL career. Walker, 6-0, 207, has played in 105 games (31 starts) during his eight-year NFL career. Rookies in the secondary include Christopher Cash (USC), Crance Clemons (Texas El-Paso) and Andre Goodman (South Carolina), a third-round selection.
At the moment, though, Howard's thoughts are on his former teammates at FSU. The 'Noles are looking to rebound from last year's 8-4 struggles, and most questions remain on defense. FSU will feature two new faces in the secondary -- Kyler Hall at free safety and Claudius Osei at rover.
"From what I can tell, this team is looking real good," Howard said. "This is still a team to be reckoned with. I tell guys, 'Don't let last year fool you. Don't be fooled by one year.' These players seem very determined. I don't see any reason why they can't go all the way."