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Behind the pledge

In the wake of Sunday’s commitment, three-star receiver Johnathan Howard spoke with CarolinaBlue about his recruiting saga, what he brings to the table and where he got his catchy nickname:

Johnathan Howard said he didn't want to lose out on a scholarship spot again.

Q: How long have you been known as “Bug?”

Basically my whole life. I got the name when I was about 6 or 7. It was a nickname my grandma gave me because I used to bug her all the time. My dad’s mom, she lived right down the road for us, and I used to ask her about everything all the time because I loved her so much. She would say, “You just bug me to death!” And it stuck with me forever. Everyone calls me that.

Q: Why Sunday night for the commitment after your official visit?

I waited until I got home. Basically, I was going to commit last night, but my dad told me to sleep on it, and if I feel that way in the morning, I could go ahead. So I waited to think about it on the ride home.

I called coach Vic (Koenning) as soon as I got home, and they were just getting out of meetings. I wanted to let him know that I felt like it would be a great future with the guys they were recruiting in 2013, and that I wanted to be a part of that Carolina blue.

Q: What was it about Carolina that sold you?

Pretty much, coach Vic. And when I got there, the facilities were nice. It’s one of the top academic schools in the country. Great weight rooms. Great coaches.

Me and coach (Gunter) Brewer got to sit down and talk for a few minutes. Pretty much all of them are straight-up guys. Coach (Larry) Fedora, I went into his office and talked to him pre-game. He shot it with me real straight. He told me I could come in and play early with their depth and style of offense they play. They push it up-tempo, but they have to get the guys to do it. Coach Brewer told me they needed bigger receivers, and he said I was going to be their No. 1 pick among the bigger receivers. That drew me in some more.

The atmosphere was great, seeing all their fans. I have a good relationship with the players.

Q: You and R.J. Prince hung out for awhile. He’s quite the personality.

Yeah, we were pretty much together from the time I got there. We talked about stuff, but it was more about how his school and my school are single A. They have 350 students, and we have 350 students, and we both have won championships. We were comparing rings.

Q: Who had the flashier bling?

I do. I’ve got all the diamonds. They wish they’d have put more in theirs.

Q: Your impressions of Fedora’s offense?

Coach told me beforehand that I was going to see their running game and how they use it to open their passing game. It’s a great offense. I think I fit great into what they do because my high school does similar things. Then they have a great running back you have to keep your eye on. They are loaded at running back in the future.

Q: What makes you feel you fit?

My size, my speed and my swag. I dress well before a game, and I look good, feel good, play good every time.

I have size and I stretch the field in the red zone. When we get inside the 20 in high school and get in a bind, I tell coach (Mark Ledford) to go to our bread-and-butter, and he knows what that is. Just put the ball in the air and let me do what I do.

Q: What do you need to work on most to succeed in college?

I need to work on my strength. On down the line, I know I have to get stronger. I’m working on getting bigger.

But it seems like no matter how much I eat – and I eat all the time – I never get any bigger. I think it’s because I’m so active and barely sit down.

Q: Done with visits, I assume?

Pretty much. My teammate, (2014 defensive tackle) Johnny Dwight, we pretty much hang together all the time. If he wants me to follow him on a trip or something like we did to Clemson a few weeks, I’ll be glad to go with him. But he’s pretty much feeling North Carolina, too. He was just as happy as I was. I know if he gets an offer from them, he’s going to be head-first and jump on.

I went on my official with him, my dad and Johnny’s dad. We stay right beside each other.

Q: How close were you to committing to Clemson when they had an offer on the table?

I came close. But my dad told me to just wait, and if it would be right for me, it would still be there. They closed up pretty quick.

So this time around, as soon as I left, I was going to call coach Brewer and tell him I was going to be part of the program. But my dad said, just give it a night and think about it. I was like, I’m not letting this opportunity slip. Ain’t no way. So he said OK, son. We just talked all night.

Johnny Dwight’s dad played arena ball and had been through the process. But this just blew him away. He told me all these coaches were pretty straight up with everything. They weren’t shooting me no bull.

I just felt very comfortable with everything.

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