Players of the Pine Belt: East Marion's Jarveon Howard

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Jarveon Howard is one the top football recruits in the state. He has multiple division one scholarship offers. He could easily be spending his summer on the field and enjoying his last high school summer break.

But here the East Marion running back is under the scorching Mississippi sun.

"I look at my mom each and every day as a hard worker," Howard said. "Because you know single parent (and) trying to provide with what I need so that's why I'm out here trying to get it. I don't want to actually have to have my momma going out her way to try to make sure  (I have) what I need for school. I'm seventeen. I can get up and go to work just like she did when she had me."

If you know Howard then this work ethic doesn't shock you. He's been putting in work under the Friday night lights and out of the spotlight from day one.

"He was a kid that always wanted to do something to better himself," East Marion coach Kevin Jackson said. "Whether it was drills, lifting weights, running, whatever. He was just mentally more advanced than most eighth graders were at the time and realized that it takes hard work to get and have the success that he has today."

Howard's on field feats have been an East Marion mainstay the last few years. Whether power or speed, he provides both for the Eagles offense.

 "You know some people actually say that I can actually switch it up sometimes," Howard said. "I can be very powerful. Sometimes they say I can be swifty and just running hard. I don't stop so I mean that just describes me. I don't stop at all."

Attention from major college programs can distract many young athletes. Howard has kept his focus however.

"Unbelievable," Jackson said. "This kid is really..his maturity level is extremely high. He understand the recruiting process. He understands how to go in and look at those college team's rosters and see how many running backs they have (and) look at their academic program. So he's very, very well rounded (and) very mature. I've never seen a teenager quite like him thus far and this is my twenty second year of coaching high school football."

Howard's mission in life goes deeper than his performance on the field.

"Long term goal is to actually be the first person out of my family to actually make it through college and actually say I got a good degree.," Howard said. "And actually to be able to make it on a high level...the level..the highest point of my life. To actually say that I actually succeeded and made it to the highest level I can go. Because God put you on this earth not to be mediocre (but) to be the highest person you can be each and every day."

With his example on and off the field, Howard's legacy on the East Marion program is cemented. The young man still has one final task.

"I want less referrals in the class and I want everybody to change their habits within their lives," he said. "It's not just the we need to do this, we need to do that as a football team. No, better yourself at home. Carry this over because once I'm gone people are already saying that the program is dead. Take that work ethic to the next level. To the next generation. That's how I look at it."