ORLANDO, Fla. -- Four-star cornerback Tracy Howard (5-11/175, Miramar, Fla./Miramar) and his teammates suffered a tough defeat to Tampa (Fla.) Plant 31-20 in the FHSAA class 8A state championship game on Saturday night.
Howard, who had an interception in the game, led a Miramar defense that held Plant to 47 yards passing.
After the game, Howard went in depth about the latest in his recruitment.
Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops visited Howard this past week, and Howard said the visit went well.
“He told me I have a great opportunity to play,” Howard said. “I have a great relationship with that guy, so it’s not like we only talk about football, we talk about other things also. But football-wise, he tells me I have a great opportunity to play. I fit in well with the system.”
Though Howard agrees that he fits in well with the FSU system, he also feels he can play in any system.
“Me personally, I feel like it doesn't matter what system,” he said. “It’s up to the player to produce. I feel like I’m a corner that can play anything, 3, 2, zone, man-up. I feel like I play man the best, but I feel like I can do it all. That’s how I feel.”
Howard said he has a great relationship with Stoops and running backs coach Eddie Gran, but would like to get to know FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher a little more.
“I've got to get to know Coach Jimbo more,” Howard said. “Coach Stoops and Coach Gran, we have a great relationship and I feel like I know those guys. They are serious guys. I still have to watch my back because the recruiting process can be a slammin’ game at the same time. I’m still just watching my back. I just want to get to know Coach Jimbo a little more.”
Florida sent five coaches to the game on Saturday. Head coach Will Muschamp, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson sat in the stands with Shaiy Howard, Tracy’s mother.
The move by the Florida coaches didn’t go unnoticed by Howard.
“Oh, we have a great relationship,” Howard said of the Florida coaching staff. “Me and coach Travaris Robinson, me and Coach Muschamp, we have a great relationship. They sat up in the stands with my family. I have a great relationship with those guys so I like Florida a lot.”
After Howard's interception in the first quarter, Howard looked in to the stands and did a Gator chomp to the Florida coaches. Howard said he just wanted to show the coaches he appreciated them being there.
“I just had to show off,” Howard said. “The coaches were in the stands, I had to show them some love. I appreciate them being in the stands with my mom, so I had to do something to give it back to them.”
Howard said he realizes it was just a recruiting ploy by the Gators.
“There is a bond there, but at the same time, I’m going to be smart about it,” Howard said. “It’s part of recruiting.They are going to do what they've got to do to get you to their school. I’m sure Florida State would have done it if they would have thought about it. I would have done it if I was a recruiting coach and I want a player. It’s kind of special to me, but at the same time it’s part of the recruiting process.”
Howard, who has already taken official visits to Florida State and West Virginia, said he is planning to visit Alabama and LSU after the U.S. Army Bowl in January. As for his fifth and final visit, Howard said he could visit USC or Florida.
“I might take a visit to USC. Either that or Florida, but I’ve been to Florida so many times, why go there again on my official visit? I like Miami a little bit, with them being a background school and my best friend Malcolm Lewis going there. So they're still in the mix.”
With USC being across the country, will that play a factor in his decision?
“USC, I mean it’s very far," he said. "I’ve been to Oregon, I won’t say I didn’t like it, but it was very far. I was ready to come back home. I was having fun at the same time. But I’ll take the trip and see how I fit in.”
Howard, who is the top-ranked corner in the country by ESPNU, said that he is looking for a family feel in whatever schools he decides to attend.
“Personally I don’t think I can go wrong going to any school,” he said. “I feel like it’s up to the player to produce. LSU, Alabama, it doesn’t matter where you go. I just want it to be like a family bond. I want it to be a place that feels like home.”
Howard was originally planning to make his choice at the U.S. Army Bowl, but now he thinks he will delay his decision.
“I may delay it because I have to take my visit to LSU and Bama and I’m not going to take those before the Army game so I want to wait,” Howard said. “I’m still trying to weigh my options.”
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