On Friday, Southern Miss quarterback Keon Howard announced via Twitter of his plans to transfer and continue his football career elsewhere.
With the transfer, Southern Miss will lose the experience and leadership Howard brought to the team. The rising junior has appeared in 13 games with eight starts dating back to his freshman year with the Golden Eagles.
The unanswered question of a clear-cut starter for the quarterback position has yet to be found this offseason and with Howard’s transfer, it only keeps the question from being answered.
The addition of former Louisiana Tech and Northwest Mississippi Community College transfer Jack Abraham only thickened the plot. Following the spring game, Howard appeared to be the favorite for the starting job, as he outplayed Abraham. Howard went 10-for-15 for 105 yards through the air and ran for 47 yards, compared to Abraham completing 10-of-16 passes for 103 yards and an interception. At NMCC, Abraham threw for 2,949 yards, 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
As a freshman in 2016, Howard burned his redshirt after starter Nick Mullens and backup Parker Adamson went down with injuries. Despite being a contender for the starting job this past season, Howard fell into the backup role but was called on to start after Kwadra Griggs went down with a hand injury. Howard helped lead the Golden Eagles to wins over UTEP, UTSA and Louisiana Tech during the 2017 season. In total, Howard threw for 1,199 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions last season.
While Griggs posted a better 2017 season by throwing for 1,879 yards, 16 touchdowns, two interceptions and running for 268 yards and three touchdowns, he missed the spring game and all of spring practice due to injury, which only complicates the situation further.
Given Howard’s leadership and experience, having him as a seasoned starter could have given some type of stability to the position. Southern Miss will now have to take a closer look at the remaining options at quarterback this summer to find the next leader behind center.
Howard has yet to announce where he plans to transfer to, but he will regain his lost redshirt from two seasons ago.