Fans who follow Longview Lobo football know they can always count on a few constants from year to year, regardless of the player turnover.

A very physical approach. A strong running game. A tough defense with an athletic, playmaking secondary.

Longview's Travin Howard returns an interception for a touchdown during the Lobos' home win over Mesquite on Sept. 27. (Jeff Stapleton, ETSN.fm)

A trio of safeties formed the backbone of Longview's 4-2-5 defense and all of them came up big for head coach John King in 2013, when the Lobos finished 11-2 with a third-round Class 5A Division II Region II playoff appearance.

But Travin Howard took that athletic, playmaking Longview defensive back tradition to another level. Week after week, Howard made huge plays for Longview, and that has earned him ETSN.fm's 2013 East Texas Football Super Team Defensive Player of the Year award.

Howard recorded a jaw-dropping defensive stat line in his senior season: 89 tackles, 10 for loss, one sack, a team-leading eight interceptions, a team-best three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one punt block, and a team-leading eight pass breakups.

Longview S Travin Howard. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

As if the interceptions and knack for creating turnovers weren't enough, Howard displayed a penchant for scoring on defense unlike any other player in East Texas. He scored four defensive touchdowns via three interception returns and one fumble return.

Thanks to two punt return touchdowns, Howard finished the season with half a dozen non-offensive touchdowns. Only three Lobos -- junior running back JaMycal Hasty (13 rushing, 3 receiving), senior receiver Dorian Leonard (11 receiving), and senior tight end Jordan Whitaker (8 receiving) -- scored more touchdowns this past fall than Howard.

The 6-foot, 178-pound Howard is a perfect fit for head coach Gary Patterson's 4-2-5, safety-heavy scheme at TCU, which got a commitment from Howard on Jan. 23. Howard had previously committed to UTSA, but took an official visit to Fort Worth, got an offer while there, and soon after switched his pledge to the Horned Frogs.

Longview's Travin Howard (4) tries to stay in bounds after his interception during the Lobos' 27-10 second-round playoff win vs. McKinney Boyd in Dallas. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

Howard teamed with fellow senior safeties Stephan Maxey and Laurent Johnson to give Longview yet another loaded secondary. The trio accounted for the top three tackle totals on the roster. Johnson led Longview with 127 tackles and added six interceptions, two forced fumbles, a team-best five fumble recoveries, one punt block, and one defensive touchdown. Maxey, who recently committed to Trinity Valley Community College, had 93 tackles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery, one punt block, and one defensive touchdown.

Howard and company combined with a Longview defensive front spearheaded by Texas A&M enrollee Zaycoven Henderson to limit opponents to 20.8 points per game. Longview held six foes to 17 or fewer points.

While Howard and his fellow safeties graduate at the end of the spring semester, there's no doubt they have laid even more groundwork for future Longview defensive backs in the same manner of those who came before them.

ETSN.fm 2013 East Texas Football Super Team

Defensive Player of the Year

Travin Howard

 

BY THE NUMBERS
  • School: Longview
  • Class: Senior
  • Position: Safety
  • Height: 6-0
  • Weight: 178
  • College: committed to TCU
  • 2013 stats: 89 tackles, 10 for loss, 1 sack, 8 INTs, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 8 pass breakups, 1 punt block, 4 defensive TDs, 2 punt return TDs