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Three-star McDonogh quarterback Preston Howard commits to Maryland: ‘I’m going where I can build’

McDonogh quarterback Preston Howard throws over Mount Saint Joseph linebackers Nate Slutzky (44) and Brandon Fique (48) during the MIAA A Conference championship game at Archbishop Spalding on Nov. 16, 2019.
McDonogh quarterback Preston Howard throws over Mount Saint Joseph linebackers Nate Slutzky (44) and Brandon Fique (48) during the MIAA A Conference championship game at Archbishop Spalding on Nov. 16, 2019. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

The Maryland football team continues to successfully recruit in-state talent, this time landing three-star McDonogh quarterback Preston Howard.

Howard was overjoyed to commit to a program that he has long dreamed of playing for ever since his Arbutus recreational football days.

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“It feels great,” said Howard, who announced his commitment Sunday in a video on Twitter. “I can’t explain it. I’m so happy, you know? It’s a really great feeling. I’m going where I can build and knowing the kinds of plays that I can make and just be great.”

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound dual-threat quarterback had several scholarship offers from Power Five schools, including Arizona State, Auburn, Boston College, Michigan, Penn State, Syracuse and West Virginia. He is the 10th-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country in the Class of 2022 and the 11th-best player in Maryland, according to 247Sports.

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In 10 games during his 2019 sophomore season, Howard completed 74 of 129 passes (57.4%) for 1,029 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions and showed off his rushing ability with 125 carries for 739 yards (5.91 per attempt) and six touchdowns. The Eagles did not play in 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns.

With Howard’s size and speed, there have been considerations as to whether might play tight end or receiver at the next level.

McDonogh coach and former Maryland linebacker Hakeem Sule utilized Howard’s ability at the tight end position during his freshman year, along with playing him at quarterback and defensive end. While Howard’s main focus has become quarterback, Sule believes that the young star can help out anywhere on the field.

“I believe that with his athletic ability, he’s able to stretch the field in various ways and I think he’ll find a home anywhere on the field at the University of Maryland,” Sule said. “I know with talking to coaches within their program, they say that if it doesn’t work out at quarterback, that they can easily find a home at tight end.”

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Maryland had the 18th-ranked recruiting class in the country in 2021, according to 247Sports, with 12 of the 22 players from the Baltimore-Washington area. Former McDonogh cornerback Dante Trader Jr. is among the signees, along with Joseph Bearns (St. Frances), ZionAngelo Shockley (St. Frances), Terrance Butler (St. Frances), Jayon Venerable (Spalding) and Roman Hemby (John Carroll). The Terps’ 2022 class, which ranks 15th nationally, already includes Spalding outside linebacker Kellan Wyatt.

With the familiarity that Howard had with Maryland recruits, it made sense for him to stay home and play for coach Mike Locksley, who is a Washington native himself.

“It went in to my decision a lot because I know a lot of guys that are committed there,” Howard said. “I know what some guys can do up there and just growing up and playing rec football and playing with these guys for so long, I know what type of talent is on the team. That impacts my decision, just knowing that I’ll already have chemistry with these guys and knowing what they can do.

“Coach Locksley knows what kinds of athletes he wants and what really impacted me was that they really stayed on me and made feel like they needed me.”

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