For some time Sabrian Howard has felt like an odd man out, though he never let them sway him.
The Forsyth Central senior had multiple opportunities during his high school tenure to transfer to another football program in the county, and with each month passed where his recruitment didn’t seem complementary to his performance on the field there were moments where he could have started to question staying a Bulldog.
But, before the season he made it very clear.
“This is my family. All the way back to the Otwell days, I’ve played with these guys,” Howard proudly said during a hot, grueling practice in August.
Howard might have found a new family over the weekend.
The 5-foot-11, 210 pound tailback was pulled out of the classroom Thursday by coach Frank Hepler. Howard had a visitor, and it just so happened to be the running backs coach from Georgia Tech. Down on the flats, running back Marcus Marshall had just announced he was transferring from the program. It wasn’t confirmed to Howard, but it was obvious Georgia Tech was in a crunch to make up for the collateral damage.
Howard listened to the pitch he got from Georgia Tech—by far the most well-known of the teams that have at least spoken to him during his recruitment—as they sold him a preferred walk-on offer. But, he’s always felt a little slighted, and something about this impromptu meeting felt more like desperation than a genuine connection.
So, after two days of reflection, Howard took the road less traveled. He packed his bags and made the trip to Ithica, New York to visit Cornell University. He had a hunch all along, but when he got on campus he knew—this was the family he had been looking for.
“Everyone is nice on recruiting trips. The players always tell you what they want you to hear,” Howard said. “But I could just tell these guys were being genuine, they weren’t just selling me something. It felt like home right away.”
Howard officially announced his commitment to Cornell on Saturday, during the recruiting trip, which led to applause from an entire room during a luncheon.
To play for the Big Red, Howard will dive into an Ivy League education with a pre-med focus to get on track to achieve his goal of entering sports medicine. On the football field, he hopes this class and the three classes before him that will flush out the recruiting cycle of head coach David Archer can turn Cornell into a major player in the highly competitive Ivy League.
“I’ll be part of his fourth recruiting class, so it will all be his players when I get there. It’s going to feel like a family,” Howard said.
When asked about if he ever imagined he’d play collegiately in the Ivy League, where there are no athletic scholarships and there are no corners for student athletes to cut, Howard chuckled.
“No, never,” he said. “But this is the goal. I wanted to play Division I football. This is a great opportunity for me. It just feels right.”