BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Thursday morning was Trenten Howland’s final summer workout with Joliet West High School.
Typically, the team would move on to fall practices that eventually lead up to their first game of the season. But Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday at his COVID-19 press conference that Illinois high school football will be moved to the spring. Girls volleyball and boys soccer also will be moving from the fall to the spring season.
So, Thursday morning was the final workout for Howland and his teammates for the immediate future. Howland, a 2021 three-star running back who is committed to Indiana, understands the decision had to be made.
“I found out right away,” Howland said. “At the same time, I think it’s good. We have to wait, but at least we still have a season, so I really can’t complain. We still have an opportunity to play.”
With Illinois high school football not taking place until the spring, that poses the question on whether or not Howland will have a senior season.
Oftentimes recruits will forego the second half of their senior year of high school, graduate in December and join their respective universities in the spring to become better acquainted with the team.
Howland was asked that question a lot on Thursday, and he hasn’t closed the door on either option yet.
“It just comes down to what I want to do in December, if I want to leave or stay,” Howland said. “That’ll be a big decision for me.”
But Howland realizes no matter what he ends up deciding, it will be the best decision for him.
“That would be good for me, though, if I do leave in December, because then I can get down to Indiana and get used to their offense and start working out with the team,” Howland said. “It’ll benefit me either way, so I really can’t complain about it.”
Joliet West will meet up again in five months and begin training for the spring season. In the meantime, it’s up to Howland to stay in shape and get better on his own.
He said he is going to be working with one his coaches, and he is also going to work out with some of his teammates at a sandbox that is close to his house.
“So, we’ll get some workouts in the sand and then I’ll just mostly work on speed and agility drills on my own,” Howland said.
For classes, Joliet West will be completely online for the fall, but they will meet in groups once a week, separating the groups by last name. In addition to training off the field, Howland just recently got a job at Walmart to keep himself busy.
On the field, Howland is 6-foot-2, 218-pound running back who is hard to bring to the ground and quick on his feet.
“I’m really soft on my feet, so when it comes to down to making cuts and hitting the holes, I’m pretty good at it,” Howland said.
He had three official visits scheduled to Indiana, but all were cancelled due to COVID-19. He officially committed to the Hoosiers on June 5, which was on his mother’s birthday.
It was a decision that came sooner than expected.
“I didn’t really want to rush things, but when (COVID-19) hit, I was like I have to come down to a decision because I don’t know what’s gonna go on,” Howland said. “So, I just sat down with my mom and dad and we did our list of pros and cons for different schools, and then we just came to our decision.”
Howland hadn’t watched much of Indiana in the past, but he knew Hoosiers coach Tom Allen was bringing in a lot of hard-working guys and the team was winning some big games.
He is also excited for the opportunity to work with Indiana running backs coach Mike Hart. Howland mainly plays running back, but he can move into the slot if he has to.
He said Hart told him he wants him to strictly be a running back for the Hoosiers.
“I feel like that’s the best opportunity for me,” Howland said. “With coach Hart, he’s been at all three levels, so I feel like he can help me develop to be the best running back I possibly can and take that next step to the next level.”
- IHSAA AND IHSA DECISIONS: Illinois has postponed their fall sports to the spring, while Indiana is still planning to have them go on as scheduled. CLICK HERE