KNOXVILLE - On Dec. 1, the Webb School of Knoxville Spartans will head to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Division II Class A state championship game. A big part of their success is due to Elijah Howard.
The young running back is big and fast. Right now, he's 5-foot, 10-inches, 160 pounds.
Webb coach David Meske said, "he can be physical when he has to be, but what he really bring to the field is a lot of speed."
Howard runs a 4.35 second 40 yard dash and he's been a national champion in the 100 and 200 meters in track.
His size and speed is helping him get noticed.
Tennessee Gridiron Scouting helps athletes in this area get college scholarship offers. They've taken notice of Elijah.
"If you could draw them up like an overall football player, you would draw them up like Elijah Howard," said Carlos Younger.
Younger notes Howard is one of the greatest talents East Tennessee has seen in 25 to 30 years.
"I've never seen a kid this young be this competitive. It's like when he's out on the field, his mentality is that of a senior" Younger said.
The best part is Howard is a long way away from being a senior. He's not even in high school; he's only in eighth grade.
Howard said being so young is " a great opportunity to get ahead and play five years."
The extra year will help him continue to improve. Meske, who's coached other Webb standouts like Todd Kelly Jr. and Chad Pennington, said "he's got to get bigger. He's got to get stronger. His technique's got to get better, and he is going to get faster."
The coach said, however, the eighth grader isn't resting on his natural talent.
"He's working hard in the classroom. He's got tremendous character. He's a good teammate, and he's not selfish," said Meske. "When you bring all of those things together that's what's going to give him a really good opportunity to be a really good football player. "
Howard is already a good football player.
The 14-year-old already has a scholarship offer from Butch Jones and the Vols. He's also taken an unofficial visit to Alabama, and he's hearing from schools like Oregon and LSU.
"He's going to be a kid that by the time he's a senior, he's going to have an offer from every Division I program in America," said Younger.
Younger also thinks Howard's talent will benefit other athletes in East Tennessee.
"Athletes like Elijah Howard will bring big time programs to this area. The benefactors are the other kids in this area who get seen by schools. Not only is Elijah doing this for himself, but he's going to create an overall awareness for the next four or five years for East Tennessee football in general," he said.
As for Elijah, he's focusing on doing well in the classroom and winning five state championships during his time at Webb.
After that, "I want to win four national championships, the Heisman and go to the draft," Howard said.
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