ESPN 300 WR Howard picks Tar Heels


Johnathan Howard (Rochelle, Ga./Wilcox County) enjoyed every minute of his trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., this weekend. The ESPN 300 wide receiver liked it at North Carolina so much, he was ready to become a Tar Heel before heading home. While his father felt the same way, he advised his son to think it over more before making a hasty decision.

The 6-foot-5 wideout did not wait much longer. After talking it over with his father for the entire trip home, Howard called his recruiting coach and committed.

"I let the opportunity slip with Clemson, so I told my dad I did not want to miss out on the chance to play for these coaches and in a spread offense like I play in now. I called Coach Vic (Koenning), and he put Coach (Larry) Fedora and the staff on so I could officially commit to North Carolina. Fedora said I made his night."

Howard had several offers but chose the Tar Heels over Kentucky and Louisville.

"The facilities, the campus and the coaching staff were all top notch," Howard said. "They have great academics, and the offense is up-tempo, so after I met the coaches that just put them over the top. I felt like they wanted me more."

Wilcox County head coach Mark Ledford watched Howard grow into a big-time playmaker over the last four years. A two-way starter as a sophomore on the 2009 state championship game, Howard has had more than 200 yards receiving in two of three games this season, and he did not have his starting quarterback in the other game. Ledford calls the four-star prospect a coach on the field in practice and in games. Ledford feels Howard is the smartest football player he has coached. Howard is hoping his next coach feels the same.

"Coach (Gunter) Brewer is one of the best in college football when it comes to receivers," Howard said. "He has coached Randy Moss, Justin Blackmon and Dez Bryant, and I am coming in very similar to them. A big receiver with XXXL gloves and that he can put me along the same path as those guys."

Another factor that has Howard excited about his future at North Carolina is the possibility of playing early.

"After this year they will only have one or two receivers over six-foot tall," Howard said. "Coach Fedora told me before the game that if I came there they would not have time to redshirt me, because they will need me immediately. That is something I was really looking for."

The addition of Howard gives the Tar Heels 19 commitments for the 2013 class, five of whom are ESPN 300 prospects and 12 of whom are rated as four-star prospects.