BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As a freshman, Southern quarterback Austin Howard grew up in a hurry. The West St. John product led the Jaguars to their first SWAC victory of the 2014 season on the road at Prairie View A&M and didn't look back from there, leading his team to an 8-1 conference record.
Now in year two, Howard is going into fall camp as the starter and is already showing signs of becoming even better.
"You can see the confidence," said head coach Dawson Odums. "That's what I think experience breeds: confidence. You've been through the fire. You've been in that fox hole. You've gotten hit. You've been up. You've had to come back. You've been down. You've made comebacks. You've gotten beat.
"You've had someone to put their arm around you. You've had to grow up on the job. That creates confidence, especially if you have success under all that adversity. And that's really the thing about Austin. He doesn't have any lack of confidence."
"I'm just a really competitive kid," said Howard. "I've been doing this football thing since six or seven years old. It really wasn't a big deal to me. I just knew if I had the opportunity, I was going to take full advantage of it."
It is one thing to have the physical tools on the field to be successful, but Howard also showed the leadership qualities that aren't always common to young players. For that, he gives credit to his mentor who is also a familiar name among Jaguar fans.
"I learned from Dray Joseph, the former quarterback that was here," said Howard. "I learned from him how to be a leader and how to communicate with the guys on a positive level."
"He's a great dude on the field and off the field," said senior receiver Nico Talbert. "We've got a good connection. He works hard. That's one person that works hard. He's a smart kid, and I expect him to step it up even more than he did last year."