Howton and Harris signed with the Mobile school on Wednesday. They join a program that will play Division I football in 2013.
“I think South Alabama got a steal because they are both great football players,” former Cordova football coach Pete Bush said. “They liked the direction the program is going and wanted to be part of it.”
At Cordova they were part of a football program that won 49 games and reached three state championship games over the last four years. Last year’s team finished 10-2 after losing to defending state champion Piedmont in the second round of the playoffs.
Howton, a four-year starter at Cordova who was also being recruited by Southern Miss, committed to South Alabama in November and never wavered on his decision.
“It’s a brand-new program. We’re trying to put South Alabama on the map. They’ve got a great coaching staff. I’m looking forward to it,” said Howton, who will play receiver for the Jaguars.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Howton has been a fixture at Cordova the last four years.
He served as the Blue Devils’ top receiver each of his first two seasons and played quarterback the last two years.
Despite missing two games last season, Howton totaled 29 touchdowns (14 rushing, 11 passing, two receiving, one kickoff return and one punt return). He also had 1,487 yards of offense.
In his career, Howton had 75 touchdowns and was an All-State selection twice.
“When I look back, I cherish all of the memories I’ve made the last four years. My teammates and I have done a lot of things most high school players don’t get a chance to do — play in three state championship games and win a state championship. I had a great time here. Going together with Maleki to South Alabama is going to be awesome.”
South Alabama finished 10-0 last season and was also a perfect 7-0 in its first year of football in 2009. The Jaguars join the Sun Belt Conference beginning in 2013. This season South Alabama will open with a home game against West Alabama on Thursday, Sept. 1. In Week 3, the Jaguars make a trip to face ACC foe North Carolina State.
“I think it will be nice to go down there and make history,” said Harris, who also had offers from Illinois, Kansas and Memphis. “Over the past year I’ve been looking at South Alabama and keeping them in mind. When I finally came to a decision, it was the best place for me to start my future. We need to keep that undefeated streak going. They’ve won 17 games in a row.”
Harris (6-3, 205) was a middle linebacker at Cordova. He will be used at outside linebacker by the Jaguars and head coach Joey Jones.
Harris started at Calera High School as a sophomore. He transferred to Cordova his junior year and led the Blue Devils in tackles both seasons.
As a senior, Harris had 142 tackles, 12 sacks, and five interceptions. As a junior he racked up 148 tackles, 15 sacks and one interception. He was a first-team All-State selection both years.
Harris was also the team’s top receiver with 28 catches for 563 yards and eight touchdowns his senior season. He added 424 yards and three touchdowns as a junior.
The duo follows up Division I signees Ryan Smith (Auburn) last year and Tim Simon (Ole Miss) in 2009.
“We’ve got Tim at Ole Miss, Ryan at Auburn and Jake and Maleki at South Alabama. I’m proud to be a part of that,” said Bush, who stepped down as Cordova’s head coach last month after three years at the helm. “Jake and Maleki will do well down there. They are great students as well as great football players. Those guys will get some early playing time. I see them both doing well.”