The last name’s never enabled St. Thomas More’s Walker Howard to enjoy the luxury of anonymity.
As the son of former LSU quarterback Jamie Howard, the rise of the younger Howard to starting quarterback this fall at his father’s high school alma mater was almost preordained.
Walker Howard took that a step further on Friday, announcing his commitment on social media to LSU where his father was a four-year starter at quarterback and finished his career as the program’s third-leading passer.
The addition of Walker Howard – the nation’s No. 3 ranked pro-style quarterback, state’s fourth-ranked prospect and No. 62 overall prospect in the Class of 2022 according to 247Sports – provides LSU with its fifth commitment and bolsters the Tigers’ No. 1 ranked class.
“LSU’s always had a special place in my heart,” Howard said. “My mom went there. My dad played there. As a kid, our whole family went to LSU games. I always wore an LSU jersey with my dad’s number (4) and his last name.
“They wanted me and I’m their No. 1 guy for the 2022 class and if I committed, I could start building a team,” Howard said. “That’s what I wanted – to win a national championship – and I’m going to build myself a dream team (at LSU).”
What Howard may have lacked in actual game experience – he’s yet to start in a varsity game – the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder more than compensated with sensational performances at national showcase events and in team camp settings.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Howard shined during the All-American National Underclassmen Combine in San Antonio where he was named to 247Sports’ All-Combine first team.
Howard accumulated many of his 20 scholarship offers last summer, including a June 20 overture from LSU, after participating in an array of on-campus college camps under the watchful eyes of head coaches and offensive coordinators.
Such performances that showcased his strong right arm led to Howard receiving offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona State, Baylor, Colorado, Houston, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Ole Miss, Penn State, Texas A&M, Tulane, UL-Lafayette and USC.
Howard will finally get his opportunity to quarterback the offense of state power St. Thomas More which captured the Division II state championship in 2019.
“There’s no question that Walker has plenty of talent,” said STM legendary coach Jim Hightower, the state’s second winningest coach with 418 career victories in 44 years. “He’s got great arm talent. He’s gifted, but there’s so much more to Walker than that. He’s such a leader that people are going to follow him.”
While sitting behind the program’s leading passer and Louisiana Tech signee Caleb Holstein, Howard saw limited action in 10 games during his sophomore season where he completed 12 of 25 passes for 157 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“I don’t think any of us doubt what he’s going to be able to accomplish,” Hightower said. “It’s going to be the people around him that we have to bring up to his level. He’s prepared himself well and he’ll be ready to take over the reins. His coaches and his teammates have a lot of confidence in him.
“He’s just a mature young man,” Hightower continued. “I don’t think there are very many like him. To be as talented as he is and to be so humble. I’ve got immense respect for what he brings to the table.”
Howard’s ties to LSU and its football program run deep.
Besides his father Jamie, a starting quarterback from 1992-95 who passed for 6,158 yards and 34 touchdowns, Howard’s late mother Kathryn also graduated from LSU, while his sister Meredyth is a sophomore member of LSU’s volleyball program, while another sister Allyson also attends LSU.
“I found a place where it makes me happy,” Howard said. “It’s got so much history. My mom always wanted me to be a Tiger. She’s smiling down right now. I’m very excited.”