Potomac DT Keiron Howard using on-court work to improve football skill set

During its practice last week, the Potomac (Md.) basketball team chugged through a grueling follow-your-pass conditioning drill. Most players passed across the court, meaning the next sprint took them the court’s width. But for the unlucky soul in each corner, passes and sprints meant diagonal runs — so further distances — that needed to be completed in the same time as the shorter ones to avoid collisions and disruption of the drill’s rhythm.

Despite a roster full of lean, fast players with lengthy strides, that unenviable role fell that day to 295-pound junior Keiron Howard, who fulfilled it without complaint and didn’t slow his teammates a step. When Wolverines’ Coach Renard Johnson noticed his big man barreling through the drill, he laughed. 

“Why you all got Keiron in the corner!?,” he called out with a smile. “He’s the biggest guy on the team!”

Had you watched only his feet as they maneuvered around the court, keeping pace with those of his teammates, you wouldn’t have known it.

That surprising combination of athleticism and size makes Howard a terror on the football field, where he stars on the Wolverines’ defensive line. Johnson recruited Howard to play basketball “as much for him as for us,” in other words, with an eye on helping Howard bolster heavy off-season weight lifting with the sprint-heavy basketball workload to improve his football game.

“Basketball helps me a lot,” Howard said. “It keeps me in shape and works on my footwork. It gets me bigger, faster, and more athletic.”

But Howard makes it clear he sees basketball as a part of his training for a future in football, a future several Football Bowl Subdivision schools believe will be a bright one. Howard already has offers from Hampton, Temple, and Tennessee, where his class of 2014 defensive linemate Jerome Dews is currently committed. He also said he’s gotten interest from Cincinnati, Indiana, Pitt and Wisconsin, among others.

“It’s a lot of mail I’ve got,” Howard said with a laugh. “But I’m working hard to get more.”

NUMBER CRUNCH: 4

The number of players out of 14 on Potomac’s basketball team that already have serious interest from Division I programs: Howard in football and in basketball, senior Dion Wiley (committed to Maryland), sophomore Randall Broddie (who’s received interest from Maryland, Cincinnati, Georgetown and Xavier among others), and Paul VI transfer senior Quadree Smith (who’s committed to UNC-Greensboro but recently reopened his recruitment). Six-foot-6 junior Anthony Smith, who is averaging 15 points per game in a breakout season, may soon join them.

BREAKFAST LINKS:

— In keeping with the Wolverines theme, read about Smith’s surprising transfer from national power Paul VI to newly minted 3A favorite Potomac.

— Broddie, listed as a sophomore, will only be able to play for the Wolverines through his junior season because he opted to reclassify, an increasingly common trend among elite hoopsters

— Edison pulled away from Wakefield late to notch a big boys’ basketball win last night and keep its momentum going.

— Elsewhere in Virginia, McLean improved its record to a pristine 13-0 on the season thanks to another big night from Maia Lee against Fairfax.

— For the first time since 2007, St. Mary’s Ryken was able to celebrate a basketball victory over Gonzaga.

— In case you missed it, see where Potomac and others fell in this week’s Post Top 20, and check out who made the cut for All Met Watch this week.

PHOTOS OF THE DAY:

VIDEO OF THE DAY: 

In case you hadn’t had enough Potomac for one post, watch Wolverines’ guard Dion Wiley talk about his senior season and being a high-profile member of Maryland’s highly touted class of 2014 recruiting class.

One of the top recruits of Maryland's heralded 2014 class, Potomac's Dion Wiley has been promoting the Terps to teammate Randall Broddie, a budding star. (Nathan Bickell for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC/The Washington Post)

Also, the Atholton hockey team is keeping its focus despite lopsided wins like Tuesday’s 10-2 victory over Long Reach.

The Lightning never stood a chance against the top-ranked Raiders as they lost, 10-2 (Corey Paterson for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: 

Boys’ basketball: The other Potomac — No. 5 Potomac (Va.) — tries to stay unbeaten tonight at 7 p.m. at Massaponax.

Chelsea Janes covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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Roman Stubbs · January 14, 2014