Future looks bright for Howell

As a true freshman linebacker for the Washington Huskies last season, Dan Howell was thrown into the fire early and often. One week into fall camp, Howell is emerging as a playmaker who may not only break into the starting lineup, but will see plenty of time on the field as the Husky football program resuscitates its hard-hitting ways.

"I love to hit," Howell told Dawgman.com following the team's first full-pads workout of camp. "I've always been a track guy. We've got a lot of speed in my family. When the football coaches saw me running around they told me I should come out for the team. So I decided I'm just going to play football because I can run and I can hit.

"Shoot, when you're out on the playground you can't hit, but if you're in pads it's all legal, right? My main motivation when I started out wasn't because I thought football was tight, it was because I could run and I could hit somebody."

At Hart High School in Newhall, California, Howell was a two way star, playing cornerback on defense and running back on offense. He helped his team to three consecutive trips to the CIF-SS Division II title game, winning two of them.

"In high school you don't get to choose where you play, you play where you're told to play," Howell said laughing. "I used to play corner. Playing linebacker in high school and then coming here is one thing, but unless you've been playing linebacker for a few years it's a whole new thing to learn. It's a lot of stuff to comprehend.

"Last year wasn't too coordinated. I think this year my coordination has come together. I feel more comfortable, more confident on the field. I'm more able to show the athleticism that I do have with my game-play. I'm trying to be the best linebacker I can be. I've got a long way ahead of me to become that linebacker I want to be, but I think I'm on the right path."

That path was created last year. He was one of seven true freshmen to see playing time last season, starting the Apple Cup when starter Scott White was suspended for missing the team bus.

"Dan's been a very pleasant surprise," UW Linebackers Coach Chris Tormey said. "Last year as a true freshman, for him to step in and grasp the concept of what we were trying to do with our defense and how offenses are trying to attack us was a formidable task. He struggled with that, as most freshmen would, but he overcame it."

Howell views White as a mentor and seems to be modeling some of his play after the junior from San Diego. "Ever since I got here, I've been watching Scott closely," an admiring Howell said. "I'm not trying to be the exact player he is, because I have my own technique and my own style, but there are a lot of similarities to the way we play and I do a lot of what Scott does because he does it so well."

Tormey said the extra reps Howell got during the spring - White missed every practice due to mononucleosis - really helped his progression as a player and he can see it already in camp.

"He's having a good fall camp," Tormey said smiling ever-so-slightly. "He's what you're looking for athletically. He's got good size, he's almost 230 pounds, he can run very well, he's strong and I think he's got a bright future."

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