June 25, 2014
Editor's note: Alan will be holding a Facebook chat at Southern Miss Athletics this Friday from 12 noon until 1 p.m.
Alan Howze is looking to make a statement.
The senior linebacker is excited to make his return as the leader of the Golden Eagles' defense this coming season.
The Ocean Springs, Miss., native was supposed to complete his collegiate career last fall, but a turf toe injury he sustained in the fourth game of the campaign against Boise State derailed that plan. It also, though, gave him one more year to finish his career at Southern Miss and a chance to make one final statement in his tenure here in Hattiesburg.
"The main thing I look forward to is making a statement," explained Howze. "With the setback I had last year, I was kind of bummed out by it because I never got to get into conference play. This year I'm excited just because Nick [Mullens] has matured and our receiving corps has matured a lot. I'm excited to play with these guys."
While at Southern Miss, Howze's experience has been nothing short of a ride.
"It's been a roller coaster," said Howze. "I've loved every minute of it, there's no doubt about that. It's a blessing to be here."
Howze's passionate play stems from falling in love with the game of football at an early age.
"I was too short for basketball; I played center in high school," said Howze. "I loved football since I was a little kid. So football was my favorite sport to begin with and that's just really what I wanted to do with myself.
The former high school basketball and track standout chose to play football at Southern Miss because of Hattiesburg's welcomeness.
"It was definitely the family tradition and atmosphere, and also the winning tradition," explained Howze about his choice of school. "The first visit I had here, my official visit, the guys took me in instantly and knew my name. It was just like home to me."
Howze, who transferred from running back to linebacker when arriving at Southern Miss, is particularly thankful for the help from linebackers coach David Duggan.
"Coach Duggan definitely molded me into a linebacker," said Howze. "He taught me what was necessary to play at the collegiate level and how to be mentally focused. [Football] really is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical."
Howze's transition was anything but easy, but the linebacker has developed into a solid defensive leader.
"You don't realize how much technique actually goes into playing a defensive position," said Howze. "Just from your stance, how you actually go from the line of scrimmage during the play and how you have to keep a wide base."
With practices already in full effect and the start of the 2014 season right around the corner, Howze has set some lofty goals for himself.
"I want to make the All-Conference first team," said Howze confidently. "That's always been a goal of mine since coming in. I always told myself that I want to be a part of a conference team."
In his career, Howze has played in 41 games and collected 128 tackles (55 solo stops) to go along with 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Still, his highlights on the field did not deter him from other important duties during his time here as being a student-athlete certainly has presented its challenges as well, but none too big for Howze.
"Time management is definitely the most difficult part of being a student-athlete," said Howze. "As you get older you kind of get better with it. It helps you out in the real world--being able to manage your time successfully because you have to do it around practice and worry about your school and study hall. All of that plays into time management."
As Howze continues his career at Southern Miss, he hopes to make a lasting imprint on the Golden Eagles' football program for years to come.
"I want to help get our program back to where it was," said Howze. "I want to get us back to a bowl game just so we can enjoy it and I know our fans would love to see that happen. When I leave here, I also want to leave a stepping stone. When somebody says `Alan Howze' they should be like, `He was a great leader.'"
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