De'Andre Howard speaks quietly but confidently on the sidelines before his football practice at Shaw earlier this week.
Much like his on-field personality, the Raiders offensive and defensive lineman doesn't have to exaggerate his words to get his point across. He speaks about his team, how close it came to pulling an upset against Carver last year and what it's going to take for that to happen when they play the Tigers on Friday (7:30 p.m. at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium).
It's a quiet confidence that has built over the past three years, during which he has been a starting offensive and defensive lineman, notching 25 tackles and three sacks last year and grading out at 88 percent in blocking on offense.
That production, as well as the team's improvement, does the talking for him.
"As a leader, you know, I don't speak too much," Howard said. "I just try to do everything by example. I don't try to be too vocal. I just try to do my job."
A job he is succeeding at, according to coach Kyle Adkins.
Adkins raved about his senior leader, calling him one of the most "disruptive interior linemen in the area."
"He comes to work every day," Adkins said. "He does the job in the classroom and on the athletic field. He's so well-rounded. Kids today, respect goes a long way. You can tell in the classroom, when he speaks up -- he doesn't say a lot -- but when he speaks up, people listen."
On offense, Howard has played all three positions on the offensive line during his time with Shaw. Adkins said he's worked a little at tackle this year and has spent most of his time at guard.
"He could probably play tight end, too, if we asked him to," Adkins said. "He's that versatile. (He's got) a huge motor."
Perhaps the only thing standing in the way of Howard and playing at a high level in college is his lack of the elite size college recruiters look for today. At only 6-feet, 250 pounds, Howard doesn't quite look the part of a next-level talent in the trenches. Adkins understands that is the challenge, but also know what his player is capable between the lines.
"He does some things that you don't really have to coach," he said. "He's great in our program. If he was a couple inches taller, he'd have offers from everyone in the Southeast. I have guys come in here all the time and tell me they like De'Andre on film, and when they find out he's 6-feet, they'll want to look at him in person. They tell me if he was 6-2, they'd offer him, but if he was 6-2, they wouldn't have a chance at him."
Howard, though, isn't too caught up in what the future holds for him in the sport. He's worried about this season, he said, and he's already gotten a lot out of the sport.
"Football teaches you a lot of stuff about life," he said. "Not a lot of people can push themselves through football. If you can do it, it can help you grow to be a great person. It teaches you responsibility, teamwork. You realize you can't do everything by yourself. You have to have others to help you."
As Howard said, no matter how much he wants to pull the upset on Carver on Friday, he can't do it himself. If, however, Shaw did pull it off, he would be a major reason why.
"He's so important to this team," Adkins said. "He knows how to win whatever he does."
David Mitchell, Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ledgerenquirersports.