RECRUITING: Offers Pouring In For Howard

It has been quite a year for Jerry "J" Howard of Orlando Jones. He just helped lead Jones to the state 3A basketball championship and back in the fall, he helped the Tigers improve from their 1-9 of 2004 to a very respectable 7-3. He has played a big role in the success at Jones and he's looking to build on that momentum this fall when he will be one of the top football prospects in the state of Florida.

(See Jerry Howard profile)

He plays defensive end and linebacker, most of the time with his hand off the ground. He is coming off a season where he had 116 tackles, 20 for loss and 10 sacks. In basketball he averages 10 points and 10 rebounds as a 6-5, 235-pound center. He is big and fast, and he will only get bigger and faster.

He has a number of football offers already. It is a number that will certainly increase once more recruiters are aware of the talented lineman.

"I have offers from Florida, Nebraska, Boston College, North Carolina State, Central Florida, Florida Atlantic and Florida A&M," said Howard.

Where he will end up on the field is up for debate but the schools in Florida after him would love to see him get after the quarterback on every down.

"Most of the Florida schools want me as a defensive end; most of the out of state schools want me as an outside linebacker," he said. "Honestly, I really don't care as long as I can get on the field and play."

The Florida Gators are after his services, and they really would love for Howard to say he wants to be a Gator. On Wednesday he spoke with Gator Coach Urban Meyer.

"I talk to Coach Meyer about three times a week," he said. "He wants me to come up there in a couple of weeks and commit, but I want to weigh out my options. I don't want to make any sudden moves. He just wants me to come and tour the offices."

When I was talking with Howard on Sunday night he told me he got another message from the Gators.

"Coach Strong just sent me a text," he said. "It said: 'It's a great day to be a Florida Gator.'"

He plans on making a trip up to Gainesville soon.

"I am going up there after their spring break and hang around with my cousin Eric Sledge for a weekend," he said.

Two coaches have his attention the most these days, and he is paying a great deal of attention to what they are telling him.

I talk with Coach Meyer and Coach (Chuck) Amato (NC State) the most," he said. "Coach Amato is a cool guy. I have a teammate that signed there, Jarvis Williams. They are in desperate need for defensive ends with their guys going to the NFL. They say I have a chance to come in and start right away. Florida isn't telling me that, that is what is scary about it."

A self proclaimed Seminole fan, he has yet to really hear from Florida State. It seems very odd for such a widely acclaimed athlete like Howard.

"I like Coach Bowden but FSU hasn't been talking to me yet so I am waiting to see what happens there," Howard said. "My dad went to school there. He played cornerback at Savannah State but finished (his degree) at Florida State."

He has a couple of visits in the works and he plans on honing those visits. He wants to take in a little bit of the college atmosphere.

"I like Nebraska … I like the recruiting coordinator, and he's a nice guy," Howard said. "I promised him a visit and I am going to stick to that. I want to visit when they play Oklahoma. I am going to North Carolina State when they play Florida State. As of now, that's all the visits I have scheduled."

A couple of other national powers peak his interest.

"I like Texas and Miami," he said. "I know (Miami DB) Brandon Meriweather … he came over to my house last week to talk about some stuff."

Whoever lands this superior athlete will be getting a great student as well as a huge addition to the athletic prowess of the football team. Howard takes pride in his school work.

"School is going fine … I have a 3.1 GPA," he said. "I already took the SAT and I think I did pretty well. I only needed a 600 so I am not worried."

He is also very confident in his abilities on the field. He knows what he wants in a program and is planning on signing with whatever school gives him all of what he really wants.

"Pass rushing is my strength," he said. "I just think no one can stop me. If a school can offer good academics and that I can compete for a starting spot as a freshman they would have a good shot. I want to be three years and out."

Those are some bold words from a junior football player that hasn't even played his senior year of high school yet. He has an ex-Seminole and current Buffalo Bill in his ear and pushing him to be the best he can be.

"My guy Eric Powell who plays with Buffalo Bills now … he comes out a lot and talks to me," Howard said. "He plays defensive end. He tells me if I go out there and work hard, the sky is the limit."

We will catch more of Howard at the All-American combine in Jacksonville on March 19. is one of the selection partners for the US Army All-American game and Howard knows he can go there and impress on the big stage.

"I am going to the combine in Jacksonville," he said. "I have my eyes on the US Army game."

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