Cornerback Tracy Howard was as good as it gets in high school. While playing at Miramar High School in Florida and again in post-season all-star games, he was matched up against some of the best receivers in the nation. He shut them all down.
When Al Golden, head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, seemingly stole Howard from under the noses of the Florida Gators, it was considered one of the biggest surprises of that year’s recruiting class. Unfortunately, Howard was nearly non-existent his freshman year. Rumors swirled of a bad attitude and nearly weekly clashes with defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio. Howard was upset with a lack of playing time and struggled adjusting to D’Onofrio’s zone coverages.
What a difference a year makes. Howard emerged as a leader during offseason workouts, and was awarded the coveted black jersey during spring practice, given out only to the highest performing starters.
He put on 10 pounds of muscle, and started the Miami spring game. Howard credited the change to mastering the playbook, and re-affirming his love for the game. The added strength has made his press and jam technique nearly impossible for receivers to get off. Memorizing a complex college playbook has allowed him to focus more on execution. Perhaps more importantly, his relationship with D’Onofrio has improved.
There is no question that Howard had the speed and ability to be an All-ACC first team performer this season. If he can remain injury-free and continue his maturation process, he just might be an All-American too.