The leading rusher in all of Miami-Dade county for the 2013 season is returning home to play against the Hurricanes.
Greg “Buddy” Howell’s 1,567 rushing yards in his senior year at Coral Gables High earned him first team All-Dade honors. The last time Howell played at the stadium now known as Hard Rock Stadium was Jan. 10, 2014, in the Dade-Broward All-Star Game.
Nearly three years later, Howell will be playing there again. This time he’s traded the crimson and gray of Coral Gables High for the red and blue of Florida Atlantic University.
Playing back home in Miami, Howell expects to have many friends, family, and high school friends at the stadium to watch him play.
“It’s great to have people you grew up with and kids you went to school with able to watch you in a game. That’s just a blessing,” he said.
Even with all that going on, Howell said that he will go out and play hard like he always does.
“It’s just another game. We’re not worried about the opponent,” he said. “We’re not worried about last year. We’re focused on us.”
In 2015, in the second-ever match-up between Miami and FAU, Howell ran 12 times for 78 yards and caught four passes for 35 yards; he did not have any touchdowns.
That game, which was played in Boca Raton, saw a close first half, with Miami leading FAU 20-17 at halftime after lightning caused a 70 minute delay in the game midway through the first quarter. The Hurricanes outscored the Owls 24-3 in the second half en route to a 44-20 victory.
“We let that happen. We can’t blame anybody but ourselves,” Howell said about the game getting away in the second half.
“It was a growing moment. This year we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’re going to stay focused throughout the whole game.”
Despite the high school’s proximity to the University of Miami, Howell says that he did not grow up a Hurricanes fan.
“I really didn’t pay attention to much college football growing up because I was so focused on playing myself,” he said.
He said that he doesn’t like to watch sports and just wants to play them, and he does not recall ever attending a Hurricanes football game.
Howell remembers playing against several Miami players in high school, but was not teammates of any of them. He said he does not know any of those players well enough to be friends.
Howell said that he likes FAU’s up-tempo offense. He said the Owls prepare for the fast pace through conditioning and in practice, and during the game, he is just focused on making his plays.
“You don’t really think about the fatigue and how tired you are,” he said.
He said he does not get the chance to go home as often as he would like to, but whenever he gets the chance, he comes home to see his mother, grandmother, and cousins. “My family is one of the things I’m blessed to have,” Howell said.
FAU beat Southern Illinois 38-30 in the opener. After the game, FAU coach Charlie Partridge said, “our offense showed a lot of signs of explosion,” and mentioned a couple of Howell’s runs.
Howell ran for 128 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns in the win.
The Hurricane defense will have its hands full with Howell and the Owls offensive line, which starts two redshirt juniors and two redshirt seniors whom Howell humbly gives the credit for his success.