How Heritage Academy quarterback Mack Howard became a Power Five recruit before starting his first varsity game
By Theo DeRosa, The Dispatch
In seventh and eighth grade, Howard lined up at quarterback for Heritage Academy’s junior high team. The Patriots passed every snap to get Howard reps at the position, and he shredded defenses in the process.
But Howard wanted more. After attending the Manning Passing Academy in seventh grade, Howard’s dad was connected with David Morris, the founder of QB Country in Mobile, Alabama. The organization offers training and development in footwork and body control, throwing mechanics and the mental aspect of the game for college, high school and middle school quarterbacks.
Howard went to Mobile a few times a month the summer after eighth grade to train with QB Country, which touts 2019 NFL starters Daniel Jones, Gardner Minshew II and Devlin Hodges last year. Starkville High School’s Luke Altmyer, a Florida State commit, also trains with QB Country.
Though Howard was raw, Morris saw a talented athlete — Howard plays basketball for the Patriots, too — who could already throw well. Wide receiver Trey Naugher, a longtime friend of Howard’s (and now his top target) said the two honed that skill over years of throwing together after practice ever since playing Pee Wee football in fourth grade.
But there’s always room to improve, and Howard wanted to.
This summer, he came back to Mobile following summer with renewed effort. He and his family stayed about a block away from the QB Country building, and he trained five days a week.
Weight lifting and conditioning filled the mornings, and the quarterbacks came back after lunch to throw for about an hour and then head to a film session where they broke down defensive fronts and coverages.
“It’s just the knowledge that I gain from him, which is huge, and it’s really helped me,” Howard said of Morris.
Morris, meanwhile, said he found Howard so motivated to work hard that he had to slow him down sometimes and just take the football out of his hands.
“On Saturdays and Sundays in season, we don’t need to be ‘grinding’ and training and all that,” Morris told the young passer.
Morris said Howard has cleaned up his bad tendencies and mechanics to the point where he could catch a mechanical error in one of his own throws. Howard’s coach has seen the same.
“He has the best mechanics of any quarterback I’ve ever coached, and I’ve taught him zero mechanics,” Harrison said.
At the end of this summer, Morris put out a video reel of Howard’s highlights on social media. College recruiters began to take notice.