"Really, we sent film to them, they liked it, and invited us to junior day," said Howell. "I loved everything about it. I didn't come in knowing that much but was really impressed."
Around that same time NC State extend Howell his first BCS-level scholarship. Wolfpack linebackers coach Jon Tenuta headed up his recruitment and liked what he saw from Howell on the field.
"A lot of teams liked me on film but wanted me to come run or them at their camp before offering," said Howell. "Coach Tenuta told me he liked the way I play and I'm a football player. He doesn't care what I run because he knows I can play. I appreciated that from him."
Howell attended other junior days after his visit to NC State, but he kept coming back to the Wolfpack. Last week he chose to make his college choice, as he called coach Tenuta to tell him he wanted to commit.
"Coach Tenuta was excited," said Howell. "He told me to call coach O'Brien and give him the good news, which I did.
"I just kept going back to NC State in my head. I've been thinking about doing it for a while and knew the time was right. I feel like they are going to be a good team for the next few years and I want to be a part of that. Plus, they have great facilities and I really love the staff and town."
At 6-2 and 225 pounds Howell possesses good size and he utilized that to help tally 68 tackles, five tackles for loss and one fumble recovery as a junior.
"Coach Tenuta says I'll be an inside-stack linebacker for NC State," said Howell. "I feel like I do a good job of getting downhill on running plays, and I'm physical at the point of attack.
"I think I can improve on my pass coverage and agility."
How firm is Howell's decision?
"I'm solid on it," he said. "I really like them, and I'm pretty sure I'm done with all the camps."