Photo: 2019 Etowah High graduate Alex Howard (pictured, sitting) recently signed a track and field scholarship with the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Pictured with Howard are EHS Principal Steve Hall (left) and EHS track and field coach Blake Hudson.
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Alex Howard will hone his discus skills in the Rocket City for the next four years.
The 2019 Etowah High graduate recently signed a track and field scholarship with the University of Alabama at Huntsville.
Howard won the 2018 and 2019 Class 5A discus titles after only picking up the sport during his sophomore year. He helped the Blue Devils bring home six medals from the state meet in Gulf Shores earlier this month, four of them gold. Howard’s winning throw of 155-06 was more than five feet longer than his first-place performance at the 2018 state meet.
Howard was a straight ‘A’ student at Eto-wah who served as class treasurer. He also belonged to the Beta Club.
“It’s feel great, and I’m really excited about it,” said Howard, who plans on studying business management. “I never thought that I’d be throwing in college, especially after my first (sophomore) year when I wasn’t that good.”
Howard said that although he received several other scholarship offers, UAH was the school that showed the most interest in him. “I felt that was important,” he said. “I had several conversations with [UAH track and field] coach [David] Cain and the assistant coaches. The school and the facilities are very nice, and it’s not too far away from home.”
Howard will join a couple of familiar faces on the Charger roster with 2017 Southside graduate Hunter Nails and 2019 Westbrook Christian graduate Mitchell Cook. The UAH track and field team finished runner-up at the Gulf South Conference Championships earlier this month in Rome, Ga.
“We knew last year going into state that he had a good chance to get Alex on the [medal] podium,” said Etowah track and field head coach Blake Hudson. “We had him pegged for hopefully first but maybe second or third, and he just let it rip and won it. This year, he was sitting in first place [in the 5A state discus seeding] all year long going into sectionals and state, so we were confident, but not cocky, of Alex repeating [as state champion].”
Hudson discovered that the discus would be Howard’s primary event after he competed in the discus, javelin and shot put du-ring his junior season.
“Looking at what he was throwing and at what the collegiate kids were throwing [in the discus], I knew he was there (for having the ability to compete at the college level). We just needed somebody to take a look at him.”
That person turned out to be Cain, with whom Hudson had formed a relationship with over the past several years.
“When he approached me at the sectional track meet (in Madison in late April), Alex was one of my kids that I wanted to talk with him about,” said Hudson. “It worked out. Alex already is a weight room animal who works out like a warrior. He’ll get to UAH and have a strength and conditioning coach and probably put on even more muscle than he has now.
“More strength equates to stronger throws, and now Alex will receive collegiate-level coaching. I really believe that Alex will be a great addition to the UAH program in his first year and be a problem for his competitors the next year.”
Howard was also a standout football player for Etowah as a two-way starter for the last two years at offensive tackle and defensive end. He had 77 tackles (including 34 for a loss) and 10 sacks this past season while helping the Blue Devils a 12-1 record, an undefeated regular season, a region championship and a second straight berth in the state quarterfinals.
Howard and his fellow Etowah defenders posted five shutouts while limiting opponents to an average of 8.7 points per game.
Hudson added that Howard was the first pure field athlete in Hudson’s time at EHS to sign a college scholarship.
“We’ve had some runners go on to the next level, but Alex is the first one who is solely field. That’s a big deal, and it really helps to put our program on the map. Alex is not only a great athlete and a great kid; he was instrumental in helping me at practice in demonstrating to some of the younger guys the proper technique and form. It’s easy for those guys to listen to Alex, because he’s got the hardware.”