Saturday, one of the nation’s most prestigious high school postseason bowl games took place in San Antonio. The U.S. Army All-American Game has become the bowl game of choice over the Under Armour All-American Game for many major recruits in recent years and for the second straight season, the Heels had a representative from that year’s respective recruiting class present. That 2019 representative was early signing day flip Sam Howell, the AP and Gatorade player of the year in the state of North Carolina. Let’s breakdown his performance on Saturday.
The East offense had Howell under center for just two drives in the first half, leading to one successful drive and one three and out. On the successful drive, Howell nearly finished it with a touchdown on a throw to the corner of the end zone, but the pass, which was placed beautifully, was just out of the reach of wide receiver Dominick Blaylock. Unfortunately, East kicker Alex Felkins was unable connect on the resulting field goal attempt. Howell would finish the first half with 55 yards on 3–4 passing, which was aided heavily by a screen play to Wandale Robinson that resulted in a 34-yard gain. Even though it was far from the greatest half a quarterback can have, Howell showcased good mechanics and some ability to move inside and outside of the pocket.
The second half was a much different result, however. Howell would complete eight of his nine second half pass attempts, five of which resulted in 15+ yard completions. The highlight that will stand out will be the amazing rushing touchdown on his second to final drive of the game. Howell made a perfect read on the read option and was able to stiff one defender to keep himself upright on the play. The part of the play that has people talking, though, was when Howell was able to stop and start and keep himself in bounds before he was able to find the end zone for the impressive 23-yard touchdown run. Here’s the replay below courtesy of Sports Daily.
While the run may have been the highlight play that has everyone talking, the one play that stuck out in particular to myself was the 58-yard completion on the final drive. The Heels’ offense has been limited due to a lack of arm strength from the quarterback position for the bulk of the last two seasons, but Howell showed that won’t be a problem next season. Howell did a fantastic job of stepping into the throw and showcased his arm strength by throwing the ball 53 yards in the air to Frank Ladson. The replay is below courtesy of NCAAF Nation on Twitter.
Howell finished the game 11–13 for 214 yards and added 5 carries for 6 yards and a touchdown.
Howell will now head to Chapel Hill as an early enrollee where he will prepare for a battle with redshirt freshmen holdovers Cade Fortin and Jace Ruder. Howell showed today that he has the talent to be a great fit in Phil Longo’s offense and bring some excitement back to a quarterback position that hasn’t had much since Mitch Trubisky’s early exit from Chapel Hill.