Quite frankly, the only No. 1 that mattered to St. Thomas More quarterback Walker Howard was the one given to him by LSU early in his recruiting process.
Howard, appearing on the Aug. 3 edition of Tiger Rag Radio, said that while taking over as the nation’s top-rated quarterback according was gratifying, the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder found more significance in the position he held atop LSU’s recruiting board, a school he’s been committed to for more than a year.
“It’s very exciting to see that but at the end of the day rankings really don’t mean much,” said Howard, the son of former LSU quarterback Jamie Howard. “I’ve got my place at LSU, and they’ve told me that they’ve had me as their guy the whole time and that’s really the most important thing to me.”
After leading St. Thomas More to the first undefeated state championship in the 34-year history of the school in 2020, Howard enjoyed a busy offseason that included several appearances at national quarterback competitions. With each event, and the opportunity for national recruiting analysts to see him throw in person, Howard steadily moved up the recruiting rankings and was the nation’s No. 2 rated quarterback after completing the prestigious Elite 11 camp in late June.
Howard, the nation’s No. 21 overall prospect by 247, has since taken over the nation’s No. 1 spot at quarterback according to both 247Sports and Rivals.com when previously top-rated Quinn Ewers of Southlake Carroll (Texas) High reclassified to the Class of 2021, graduated and enrolled at Ohio State.
The top spot among the nation’s quarterbacks was in addition to Howard already being a consensus five-star prospect and Tiger Rag’s No. 1 player in Louisiana’s Class of 2022.
“The mindset doesn’t change,” Howard said. “It’s another season, another team to win a state championship. That’s the main goal this year. I’m really excited to compete and win another state championship.”
Howard, rated 26th overall by ESPN.com, was nearly flawless in his first season as a starting quarterback last season, leading a talented STM team to its second straight Division II state championship.
The rifle-armed right hander completed 63 percent of his passes (210 of 317) for 3,369 yards with 39 touchdowns and five interceptions in his team’s COVID-shortened 10-game season. He proved to be adept in the pocket, able to scramble away from pressure to either gain yardage or deliver a pass on the move.
With STM on the cusp of achieving school history going into its Division II final against De La Salle, Howard was at his best in a tense, back-and-forth game, completing 18 of 26 passes for 381 yards and four TDs to help the Cougars to a 35-28 victory.
Howard was voted the outstanding offensive player on the Class 4A All-State team.
“Last year’s team was probably the most talented team ever in STM history,” Howard said. “We had players all over the field that were just better than everyone else on the field. Our 22 players were absolutely dominate than anyone’s 22 on the field. What’s different this year is we’re going to have to work for it and that’s what we’re ready to do. We had a long summer, we competed hard and we’re ready to go.”
With such standouts as first team all-state wide receiver Jack Bech at LSU, Howard realizes his role as a leader will be enhanced in his second season as a starter. The Cougars open their season Sept. 3 at home against Brother Martin.
“I’m the guy this year,” he said. “I was the guy last year, but we had Jack. Finally, this is my team and I think everyone knows that. I’ve worked my tail off this offseason and I’m ready to go for it.”
National stages such as the Under Armour Future 50 camp in June provided Howard with the opportunity to show off his quick release and tremendous footwork against some of the nation’s top quarterbacks to see where he stacked up. The Elite 11 competition, which starts with the nation’s top 20 quarterbacks, was the final competition in which Howard competed and after experiencing moderate success on the first of the four-day event, he picked up steam by not only showing off his arm strength, but his accuracy in completing passes into tight windows.
He wound up third in the event and appreciative for the experience.
“It was a great experience getting to know all of the guys and the coaches. They’re the best coaches in the country, they train the best,” Howard said. “They’re going to make you uncomfortable, and you have to be comfortable with that. That’s what Elite 11 does for you. It was a great experience.”
Howard also spent as much time as possible at LSU this summer, not only taking part in the high school skills challenge but making repeated trips to Baton Rouge just to be around the current team and Tigers coaching staff.
It was commonplace when LSU hosted prospective recruits such as skilled position athletes for official visits in the Class of 2022, or unofficial visits that stretched beyond that time frame, Howard was there as almost an extension of the recruiting staff, lending his persuasive talents to convince as many talented players to join him in purple and gold.
“That’s my home for the next four to five years. It’s my home,” Howard said of LSU. “That’s my family and those are my brothers I’m going to go to war with. They have the best coaching staff in the country over there and I’m trying to build the best class in the country.”