Christian Academy of Knoxville senior Davis Howell knew how to get open and draw quarterback Charlie High’s attention enough during football games to become the national all-time leader in career receptions with 358.
Although he wasn’t quite as successful in attracting the attention of Southeastern Conference coaches due to his slower-than-ideal foot speed, he was plenty quick in deciding to sign with UTC’s football team.
“They were the first Division 1-AA team to give me an opportunity, to give me a scholarship, so I was very excited about that,” the 6-foot-2 player said following a mid-morning signing ceremony Wednesday at his school.
As he selected the Mocs in recent days, he was more like a quarterback than a receiver, as he carefully scanned the region looking for a school that would catch his attention and make him want to go there.
“In that division, they have the best stadium in my opinion,” he said, adding that he went to a game last fall before the coaches offered. “It’s a good atmosphere. I loved the school and loved the coaches, so it just seemed like the right fit for me.”
The city of Chattanooga was a drawing card as well, he added.
“I love everything about that city,” he said. “It’s a lot like Knoxville, so I’m excited.”
His coach, Rusty Bradley -- who has won two straight Class 3A state championships and who had two players (receiver Josh Smith and lineman Brett Kendrick) sign with Tennessee during the same ceremony – believes UTC is getting a good player and person.
“I think the sky is the limit with Davis,” he said. “His composure and his competitiveness and everything else he brings to the table are going to make him a great player.
“And he is very coachable. You tell him something once and he gets it. He is very competitive and he loves everything about the game.”
While Howell was one of the big men on campus at CAK this year, the same cannot be said when he goes out with his family. That is because his father, Todd Howell, is the chief meteorologist for WBIR Channel 10 TV station and is one of the more recognizable faces in Knoxville.
Todd Howell attended Georgia as an undergraduate, and Davis grew up following the Bulldogs’ football team, he said.
“I grew up a Georgia fan just because my whole family is from Georgia,” he said.
But he is not disappointed not to be signing with a school like Georgia, and he hopes to prove wrong the coaches who think his lack of a typical college wide receiver’s speed will be a detriment.
Actually, he thinks his speed will be an asset.
“There’s a difference between your 40 speed and game speed, and that is what I always say,” he said. “You can only get faster from here, so that’s what I’m looking to do.”