Steven Howard has his eye on one prize as he enters his senior season, as he wants to win a state championship at Charlotte (NC) Olympic High School, a program not known in past years for having a strong football program.
"We're hoping to win a championship because this is our last year," Howard stated. "We want to win it all this year. This is my last time around, and I want to get it done.
"Olympic hasn't had much of a past, but now we're starting to develop a tradition. Teams used to think they could stomp all over us but not anymore. Our defense has been stepping it up every year, and this should be a good season for us. I just want a championship."
A three-star prospect according to Scout.com, Howard also has a personal goal. Committed to NC State, his recruitment is complete, but the 6-foot-3, 185-pound wide receiver hopes to earn an invitation to play in the 2006 Shrine Bowl.
"I want to play in the Shrine Bowl game," he said. "Only the best of the best make it into that game, and I went to the combines trying to play good enough to be one of the wide receivers picked. It's for just a select group of players, and if I make that game it shows that I'm one of those guys."
Howard considers himself a combine veteran, as he made it a routine to attend as many camps as possible over the past year. When asked what player impressed him the most on the combine circuit, a name quickly came out of his mouth: Dominique Ellis. Like Howard, Ellis, a defensive back from East Wake (NC) High School, is also committed to NC State.
"Dominique, who has committed to State, he stood out to me this summer," said Howard. "He's real impressive. He's a shutdown corner, real physical… I didn't really know who he was, but at the Nike Camp he was locking everybody up. I'm glad we got him committed, we're getting a nice squad together."
|"Steve is a good blocker, and he's going to be our big-play guy."|
A confident player but far from cocky, Howard is certain of his abilities. As a junior, he caught 43 passes for 642 yards and six touchdowns, earning a spot on the all-conference team. Most analysts label him the state's third-best wide receiver prospect, only behind Durham (NC) Hillside's Greg Little and Burlington (NC) Cummings star Dwight Jones. Howard wasn't too familiar with Jones, but matched up against Little at this year's Nike camp held in Clemson, South Carolina.
"Greg Little, he was pretty good," said Howard. "I don't think he's better than me to tell you the truth, but I'm just going to keep working hard. Everybody has their own opinions, and you can't do anything about that.
"He was down at Nike Camp with me. I think I did good down there. They said I was one of the top five players to watch in the newspaper."
Howard's coach, Olympic head coach Maurice Flowers, certainly thinks highly of his star player.
"We've been known to throw the ball around here at Olympic, and he's going to have a big year," Flowers said. "Steve is a good blocker, and he's going to be our big-play guy. All-around, he's a great player."
Check back tomorrow for Part II of Pack Pride's exclusive feature on NC State wide receiver commitment Steven Howard ...