The general attitude and outlook surrounding The Ohio State University football team this season, both on and off the field, is positive. It marks the difference between a team that has potential and a team that knows its potential.
Senior defensive back Travis Howardknows all about the impact a change in attitude and approach can have on both a player and a team as a whole. He has come a long way during the course of his five-year career as a Buckeye, from redshirting his freshman season to gradually earning playing time as a redshirt freshman and sophomore en route to having a breakout junior season.
Yet even though he started every game during his junior season, recording 25 solo and 16 assisted tackles, along with collecting two interceptions, he still did not feel like he had achieved his full potential.
That is no longer the case.
“I’m playing at a different level now,” Howard said. “The coaching staff and the way they do things as far as making us compete has pushed me and challenged me. It has helped me elevate my game.”
The Miami, Fla., native has shown an incredible amount of improvement during the past year. The college football world has started to take notice and, perhaps more importantly, has started to take notice of the threat he and teammate Bradley Robypose to opposing offenses.
“Our coaching staff has pushed both of us a lot,” Howard explained. “They knew our capabilities and what we could do. Coach Meyer told me he was going to push me and make this very tough on me so he would be able to get the best out of me. It worked because I feel better than I have ever felt since I’ve been at Ohio State.”
Howard’s improvement is not limited to his performance on the playing field. His attitude has also improved, helping him to become a true leader in other ways as well, doing whatever he can to bring energy to the team. Even if that means breaking out in freestyle rap to get the team motivated.
“That’s part of the fun and goofy side of me a lot of people don’t know about,” Howard said with a grin. “I can freestyle any minute. It’s fun and gets the team motivated. I did it a couple of times during fall camp to get practice going a little bit because the players were tired in the morning on the bus. We all got some beats going and everybody got fired up so we could go out and practice.”
The optimistic approach exuded from Howard is evident among every player on the team this year. It doesn’t matter to Howard his last year in the Scarlet and Gray will not end the way he originally hoped for when joined the program as a freshman.
The team has fully embraced new leadership and a new way of thinking, transforming disappointing circumstances into an opportunity to learn, grow and improve as a team.
“We’re a team that’s fired up and ready to play,” Howard said. “Coach Meyer wants us to go out there and be angry and tuned into the game and compete on every play. We’ve been through a lot these past couple months with summer workouts and training camp. It would be crazy for us not to go out there and leave it all on the line after everything we have been through and the challenges we have faced.”
By: Julie Brown, Athletics Communications