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March 28, 2006

Exclusive: Orlando end talks schools

ORLANDO, Fla.- In an exclusive interview with Rivals.com, Jones High defensive end Jerry Howard talked about some of the schools that are seriously in the hunt for his services and hinted about plans for an official visit to a Big 12 school in the Fall.

One of a slew of top defensive ends coming out of the Sunshine State in this year's class, Howard said that Florida could be out in front at this time and a big part of that is the effort of its head coach.

"It's been interesting," he said. "Coach Urban Meyer is recruiting me and he normally doesn't come down for defensive players. So they have a higher percentage change of getting me.

"He said that I have a good chance to come in and play as true freshman and they also have my major in business that I want. Plus, it's close to home so people can come see me play."

Howard's cousin, Eric Sledge was a part of Meyer's first recruiting class at UF.

"This weekend, I am going to go up there and spend the night with him on Friday night so I can go to the Junior Day on Saturday," Howard said. "So I will get a tour of the campus early."

Florida State, which is yet to offer, is also in the mix for the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder. Seminoles assistant Billy Sexton is the recruiter-of-record.

"(Sexton) said the usually don't offer the juniors early, so we may have to wait and see what happens there," Howard said.

Howard mentioned conversations (after making contact) with N.C. State head coach Chuck Amato have been intriguing. He currently lists the Wolfpack third on his list.

"He told me to look at the draft and how many defensive ends they are going to have in the top 10," How

"Auburn offered me on the spot," he said. "There is also a good chance to play early there because their defensive ends are all going to be juniors next year and they are predicting that they are going to leave early for the NFL draft, so there's a good chance to come and play there."

Terry Price, one of Auburn's top recruiters, is recruiting Howard for the Tigers.

Miami (Fla.) safety Brandon Meriweather is Howard's cousin. The Apopka, Fla., native told Howard not to be concerned about the lack of attention from the Canes.

"He told me to wait because their coaching situation is not set yet," Howard said. "So they are going to come down in the spring."

Howard also said that one of his five official visits this fall very likely will be to Lincoln, Neb., to check out the Cornhuskers.

"That's a college town," he said. "Their history of winning all of those championships, you can't beat that. I just want to see what it's like and see if it fits me. I also promised my recruiter, coach Randy Jordan that I was going to visit, so I want to keep my word."

Boston College, Wake Forest and Central Florida, among others have offered Howard, who says that while an early commitment isn't out of the question, he very likely will wait.

"I want to see what my options are," he said.

Howard, who had 116 tackles and 10 sacks his junior year, will attend the Miami NIKE Camp April 9 in Coral Gables, Fla.



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