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UNC QB Sam Howell Set to Display Leadership Skills at Combine



Sam Howell

INDIANAPOLIS — Sam Howell didn’t waste any words on Wednesday morning when asked about the possibility of joining the Pittsburgh Steelers. As far as the North Carolina quarterback prospect is concerned, coming to Pittsburgh would be a great opportunity should the Steelers choose him in the NFL Draft.

“I did meet with them, and I think the world of the organization,” Howell said. “I have a lot of respect for coach (Mike) Tomlin and how he carries his life and goes about things. I like those guys a lot. Ben (Roethlisberger) is a Hall of Famer and was one of the best to ever do it.

“I’m just happy to go anywhere. I’m looking to go anywhere that has an offense that can utilize my skill set.”

Where that might be is anyone’s guess, as Howell’s projections have him landing anywhere from a first-round selection to falling into the draft’s second day. In addition to the Steelers, Howell confirmed that he’s met with Carolina and Denver, along with working with the Lions’ coaching staff at the Senior Bowl.

Regardless of who he’s talking to, Howell said that he plans to present the same front to every team.

“I think I did a pretty good job of that for the most part at the Senior Bowl to show who I am as a person and a player,” he said. “My mindset about this is that I’m not going to be someone I’m not; I’m going to show these teams who I really am.

“I think my ability to lead and rally a team is one of my main strengths. That’s probably my main strength as a quarterback, to rally a team and get a group of guys going, and I’m trying to show these teams how I did that at North Carolina.”

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To that end, Howell expressed no regrets about a final season in Chapel Hill that left him without many of the weapons that helped him produce a strong sophomore campaign in 2020. Without his top four targets from the season before, Howell’s numbers fell from 38 touchdowns as a freshman to just 24 as a junior, leading to questions about whether his numbers would translate to the NFL level.

However, Howell prizes the experience and thinks it’ll make him a better player for having endured it.

“I learned so much this past season, and that’s why I wouldn’t trade last season for anything,” he said. “We didn’t meet the kinds of expectations we had for ourselves, but I learned so much week in and week out. We had so many ups and downs, and that’s really challenging from a leadership standpoint to always come in with a positive mindset and upbeat mentality.

“I definitely should have been a little more positive throughout the year; I got a little frustrated at times and tried to do too much. For me, it’s just staying comfortable, staying calm and knowing people are always looking at me.”

That said, Howell doesn’t plan to make drastic changes to his leadership style once he gets on an NFL roster. He sees himself as a personality in the mold of Joe Burrow, a quiet leader by example.

“He doesn’t really say a whole lot, but when he’s on the field, he has a presence,” Howell said. “The guys around him get better, and I try to model that in my game.”

Click for more coverage from Alan Saunders, Nick Farabaugh and Dan Angell, live from Indianapolis at the 2022 NFL Combine.

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