It didn't take long in the young career of incoming freshman Hurricane Tracy Howard but he has already established himself as a leader among his peers. Many of whom have more college academic and football experience than him by leaps and bounds. But it was clear Tuesday, at Miami Garden's Betty T. Ferguson Complex where the Hurricane student athletes were training youth football kids in the community that Howard has already inserted his leadership on this team. It was all apart of Al Golden's Deserve Victory program designed to get his team into the inner city and returning gratitude to the communities that helped the program to achieve five national championships.
During warm ups, Howard took command in the midst of upperclassmen directing youth football camp attendees and his teammates followed his lead. With little prompting for the strength and conditioning staff on hand (other coaches stayed behind including coach Golden in compliance with NCAA rules), Howard felt right at home. If his high school attributes were behind him now, you couldn't tell, he has clearly garnered team respect early on.
Moments later during individual drills for defensive backs, Howard again began without being prompted to walk the youth through the scheduled workout. He didn't seem to mind that he's only been on campus for a little more than a month.
These qualities that coach Al Golden has desired from his players and that Howard appears to already be showing are the reasons he was highly sought after by almost every major program in the country. Miami's ability to keep him at home was a huge recruiting coup for Golden, who denies being a salesmen. It appears unassuming recruiting guru hit a home run in only his second try at the plate. And while it's too early to tell what a career holds, the early signs are good.
By in large, freshmen tend to be immature and don't take off the field activities like service very seriously. Howard was locked in and engaged throughout the day's activities. His future appears as bright as most expect.
The Deserve Victory camps continue through Friday of this week at Richmond Heights Park, in Liberty City and conclude in Lauderdale Lakes at Vincent Torres Park. Today's event featured over 200 youth receiving instruction from approximately 20 student athletes, some players (like Howard) are true incoming freshmen.
"It's all voluntary. We're giving them the avenue to take, get out and interact with the kids and let them know that this is what we're doing and its on them," said Hurricane football operations coordinator Hurlie Brown.
And the players couldn't have been any more excited. It was hard to tell who the division one football players were from the kids because the smiles were just as wide on both sides.
"They looked forward to doing it. Because they all know that we were all kids at one time ourselves and they know the importance of how the kids look up to them. And they also know that this is going to keep some of the kids out of trouble. That's what it's all about, giving those kids access to us and letting them know that we're people too. We took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to us and we're no different from anybody else."
But they are different, and their presence today while teaching a little football surely gave a lot of local youth, the highlight of their summer vacation.