Then came a memorable senior year, in which Howell helped the Indians to the CIF-SS Northern Division Finals and Howell earned Co-Offensive Player of the Year honors with Darrell Scott.
Now Howell is hoping to come into Stanford as a running back, and a pretty highly touted one at that.
"I'm extremely happy with how things played out, but I never worried about ratings and didn't pay attention to feeling underrated. I just went out there and played like I know how to," said Howell.
Howell said he will likely get his first shot at running back for Stanford, but that he's still carrying the "athlete" designation.
"They recruited me as an athlete, and they still look at me as an athlete, so we'll see when I get there," said Howell. "My first love is running back, but I'll play wherever the coaches think I can contribute."
Howell's senior year saw him rush for 2,249 yards and 29 touchdowns, catch 39 passes for 650 yards and six more scores and average nearly 36 yards a punt for the Indians. But for him, the stats paled in comparison to the Indians' success as a team.
"It was sweet that we won the league and it was a great success to make it to the finals," said Howell. "The game against Canyon was the best. I just knew that we had one more chance to win that game."
And win it they did, on a 42-yard field goal in the rain with no time left to knock off the defending state champion. Howell set up the winning field goal with a long run that put the ball in field goal range with one second left.
Though the Indians came up short in the finals against St. Bonaventure, Howell was pleased with how things ended up.
"I looked forward to being a leader my senior year, and I hope my play showed that," said Howell. "I was pulling for a big year, and we had the type of season that we wanted to have."
Howell is now set for the next step in his career, which will take him to The Farm.
"I'm going up there in the summer and I want to be ready to play," said Howell.
Some schools tried to test if he was solid to the Cardinal, but he didn't waver, sealing his decision when he was admitted into school. A few weeks ago, Howell took his official visit to Stanford.
"Every time I go up there, I enjoy it more," said Howell. "I am pretty amped up to go there. My trip finalized my decision to go there. Coach [Willie] Taggart came in, had a meal at our home, and we talked about my role up there. I'm excited."
One of Howell's teammates, Patrick Larimore, will be a rival in the Pac-10, going to UCLA.
"We most definitely are already talking a lot of trash to each other, but it's all in good fun. He said he's gonna get me," said Howell. "If he can catch me."
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