Howell was a prep standout at Memphis (TN) University School, where he totaled 72 solo tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, five sacks, and six quarterback hurries as a senior. Prior to his final year he actually gave a verbal commitment to the NC State coaching staff.
"I committed to the previous staff the summer before my senior year and i was committed for a few months. I ended up kind of drifting away from them and decommitting. In hindsight it was a big mistake, but I'm just glad to be here now."
He flipped from NC State to Wake Forest, and signed with the Demon Deacons in 2013. He spent one year at the school before leaving the program.
"I was there for a year and I redshirted," Howell said. "From being there I learned what ACC talent looked like. I watched all of our games from the sidelines when I was redshirting... so I've seen the speed."
Howell's next stop was at Iowa Western (IA) Community College, where he spent a semester, starting all 12 games at middle linebacker and totaling 67 tackles and seven tackles for a loss.
The 6-foot-1, 236-pounder had options. A mid-year enrollee, he had scholarship offers from some schools, but he chose to walk-on at NC State.
"I think I can earn my way here," said Howell. "This was where I wanted to be. I turned down some smaller places... some smaller schools to come here.
"This is where I wanted to be and this is where I belong."
He got an early feel for the Wolfpack fanbase after he announced on Twitter his decision to enroll at NC State.
"It was awesome," he said. "When I announced that I was coming here I got so many positive tweets and stuff... like 100 Twitter followers in a few hours of fans from here. It's amazing. They are really awesome. It makes you feel good as a player when you can tell a lot of people care about you and want you to do well and the team to do well."
"I'm acclimating really well," he said. "I'm loving the school and the team... all the coaches. It's been really good so far.
"I really like the Communications program and all the classes that are offered here. My favorite class is probably Entomology, which is the study of insects. I'm not sure why, but I like that class."
Howell has already started to turn heads with his play in spring practice, and he has really impressed his head coach.
"Ford Howell has been a great surprise at middle linebacker," said Doeren. "He's very athletic... more athletic than we thought.
"He's going to play a lot for us. We're excited about what he can do on special teams as well. Once he learns the defense it's going to be fun to see him compete."
"It feels really good," Howell replied when told of Doeren's comments. "I'm excited to help this team in every way that I can. That was the goal when I came in... to get on the field and help this team win some games.
"I was really excited to here coach Doeren say I would maybe be able to do that."
What has eased Howell's transition from junior college back to the ACC has been the help he's received from two leaders at linebacker: M.J. Salahuddin and Jerod Fernandez.
"They both have a lot of experience playing already," said Howell. "They are guys that were here last year and before that. They have a ton of game experience and can help you out with what you will see.
"They are always willing to give help, especially M.J. With him it's like having another coach right now because he's injured and every time you come off the field he has something to say to help you get better."
Next up for Howell is the Kay Yow Spring Game, an event he is looking forward to.
"I'm so excited," he said. "Every time you step in that stadium it's a special place... whether there's thousands of people in there or no people. It's going to be awesome."
From Memphis to Winston-Salem... to Iowa and now Raleigh, Howell believes he has found a home. Now he is settling in at a school that he truly believes is on the rise and capable of having a terrific season.
"Last year was a huge building year and this year expectations are high," he said. "They should be. We have a lot of talent and have had some great practices. The energy level is high, and we have great chemistry.
"It's awesome. I really think this will be a big year for us."