Call it “Buddy being Buddy.”
“That’s one thing I always tell people, I’m just going to be Buddy,” Howell said. “Buddy’s a guy that’s going to come in and work hard, do what’s best to try to stay on top of his game and be ahead of the game. I just call it ‘being Buddy’ because most people know me for being the big guy, the guy, if you ask a question, I’ll probably know the answer.”
Howell – and former FAU teammate, kicker Greg Joseph – signed with Miami as undrafted free agents in the hours that followed the 2018 NFL Draft. They’re spending the weekend in Davie participating in the Dolphins’ rookie minicamp.
That hasn’t involve much actual football. Unlike many teams, Miami uses the rookie minicamp to mentally prepare their rookies for the upcoming OTAs.
“Meetings, meetings, meetings. meetings,” Howell said. “They’re just basically teaching us everything so that when we get in the mix there’s not a whole shock.”
Howell is attempting to stand out amid a crowded backfield. Kenyan Drake enjoyed a bit of a breakout season in 2017 and the Dolphins signed veteran Frank Gore during the offseason. They also drafted Arizona St. running back Kalen Ballage in the fourth round.
While the Dolphins like what they saw of Howell’s FAU game video, they won’t be certain where – if – he can help the offense until they put the pads on.
“We’ll get him up to speed as quickly as we can and see how he can fit into the competition,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said.
Howell is an underdog in the competition, but he’s accustomed to that. He’s also accustomed to finding his way onto the field.
As a true freshman Howell forced his way into FAU’s starting lineup. He left FAU as the program’s fourth leading rusher with 2,419 yards. That total would have been greater if not for the emergence of Devin Singletary.
Last season as a sophomore Singletary rushed for 1,920 yards and led the nation in touchdowns as FAU’s lead back, but his yards per carry were second to Howell, who averaged 6.6.
“It was frustrating,” Howell said of his lack of use as a senior. “I’m not going sit here and say I’m not a human being. It’s frustrating not getting the ball sometimes. The first two games none of us got the ball. Then, when we got rolling, getting the ball it was a different story. You’ve got to get past frustration to have a little fun.”
Howell scored five touchdowns as a senior, and started having even more fun on special teams.
“I felt like me standing on the sideline, I was just a waste, you know?” Howell said. “Being able to go on special teams and use my big body to dominate opponents, I was happy about it.”
FAU coach Lane Kiffin utilized Howell on the punt return and kickoff return units. Should he make Miami’s final roster, Howell will almost certainly be a part of the Dolphins’ special teams units.
Howell says Kiffin told him, “I’m going to put you on special teams because that’s something in the NFL that’s going to help your service. I thank him a lot for that and I’m very grateful that he made that move.”
On Saturday Howell met for the first time with the media that covers the Dolphins, giving them their first taste of Buddy being Buddy.
He endeared himself with honest, insightful, and sometimes humorous answers to their questions.
What kind of back is he?
“I can switch it up,” Howell said. “I can be versatile. I can be kind of shifty in-and-out, make some cuts, but I can also be violent, where I’m, hey whoever’s in my way they’re going to have to feel all of me – and tell your friend to come help because I’m not going down that easy. It’s a mixture. What ever they are asking me, I can do it.”
What does his high yards-per-carry average say about him?
“It showed with a lot of carries I can take that load,” Howell said. “It also showed that with a little bit of carries I can actually get a good amount of yardage.”
A graduate of Coral Gables High School, Howell likened his running style to Le’Veon Bell and Gore, the latter being a back he looked up to as a fellow ball carrier from the Miami area.
On Saturday Howell made all those comments and more while standing on the Dolphins’ practice field wearing an Aqua shirt with “Miami Dolphins” emblazoned across the chest. It’s one of the many perks he’s enjoyed this weekend as a professional football player playing for his hometown team.
“It was a blessing just to see everything that they provide for us,” Howell said. “The people here are like, basically, working for you. They want everything to fit you perfect. They want everything to your comfort. It’s basically like being babied in that aspect – but you’ve got to go to work.”
Buddy, being Buddy, is ready to do exactly that.