Standing 6’0 and weighing around 217 pounds, new FSU quarterback commitment Sam Howell is an intriguing quarterback prospect with a lot of tools and play-making ability. In watching his 6-minute highlight from his junior season, there are a few traits and attributes that pop.
First things first: Howell has a very strong arm. He has the ability to push the ball to any spot on the field and can do so with excellent velocity, arm strength, and a fairly quick release. Accuracy is best judged with a larger sample set, but he does appear to throw with good ball placement; his precision allows his receivers to easily continue running as they make the catch.
A big part of what allows Howell to make these throws is his throwing base: a “QB Must” according to FSU OC Walt Bell. This is a big strength of Howell’s. It does not matter what is going on around him or whether he is in or out of the pocket, Howell finds a way to get to an open and wide throwing base before he gets the ball out.
Howell’s next high-level attribute is the ability to throw on the move. I counted 8 plays on his highlight film in which he rolls left or right and hits his receiver in stride. Howell has a natural feel for making plays outside the pocket and is accurate throwing off-platform when there is not enough time to set his feet due to the rush or the timing of a route.
That leads us to another strength of Howell’s, and that is his athleticism and ability to evade the rush. Howell is not an elite-level athlete, but he has the ability to use his feet and force defenses to defend him as a runner. Howell makes plays with his legs when evading pass rushers and is also effective on QB designed runs, including some read-option plays that his high school team runs. Howell uses strength and pad level to run through arm tackles and he always seems to fall forward.
We also see some flashes of Howell’s ability to work in the pocket as a passer and throw with some anticipation. There are a few examples of Howell showing the willingness to stand in the pocket and allow routes to develop while keeping his eyes down field. There are a number of excellent throws he makes on routes that open late over the middle.
In high school, quarterbacks do not have to be throwing with great timing and anticipation in order to find open receivers, so it can sometimes be hard to evaluate without seeing a player multiple times in different settings. That being said, it’s encouraging to see a few plays in Howell’s film of him throwing with anticipation or starting his delivery as the receiver is making his break.
We discussed the bigger-picture implications of Howell’s commitment here.