Julian Howsare learned how to dominate last season.
This year, the Clarion University junior must figure out how to adapt.
His breakout junior season included 58 tackles, 14 sacks, four fumbles forced, three pass breakups and one blocked kick. As a result, the Altoona product was named a third team All-American at defensive end as part of the 2012 Don Hansen Football Gazette NCAA Division II All-America squad.
"It was a great accomplishment. Any way I can help the team out is what I tried to do," Howsare said. "I look to build on that and use it as motivation to come into this year."He received more motivation this year when USA College Football named Howsare to the first team of is 25th annual Pre-Season Division II All-American squad.
"Another year of experience is always good. I feel better mentally coming into this year," he said, "I understand game more. I saw last year what I could do."
Opponents certainly took note. And they'll be aware of the 6-3, 255-pound force this year.
"The honors are good and bad. It gives you confidence and you've proven you belong. Now, he's going to have a big, old target on him. People won't forget about him. They'll know who he is; he'll be in their scouting report. Everybody from week one on will know who he is and where he is," Clarion coach Jay Foster said. "That'll be a challenge for him. He is going to get double-teamed and triple-teamed and very rarely single blocked. People are going to do different things to him that he hasn't seen in the past to try to slow him down. How he adjusts will be the key to moving forward."
Howsare spent the summer solidifying his game and developing different ways to rush the passer.
"I worked on every part of my game, mostly I looked to try to build on my run-stopping ability. Everyone talks about the pass rush, but I wanted to be a more-balanced defensive end rather than just a pass rushing defensive end. I worked a lot of drills with bags and I concentrated more on the lifting aspect this summer. I feel a lot better coming into this season than I did going into my sophomore year.
"I was 250 lbs. going into last camp and I am 255 lbs. going into this one. But, I think it's a better weight and I have better conditioning."
Dealing with the extra attention from teams will be key to Howsare's success.
"Julian will have to add a move to his arsenal. When you look at the great ones, they all have a signature move, but they always have a counter to it. The next step is creating that next counter," Foster said. "You don't want to throw to many in too soon because they you don't become great at anything. If you let him get off the edge, he will get off the edge. He has a dynamite spin move. People will adjust to it and what will be the changeup to that? We'll wait and see if everybody can figure it out.
"If he is a truly a great one, and I think that's shown over time, the truly great ones make those adjustments. With that adjustment, he'll be just as successful, if not more."
Howsare welcomes that challenge.
"That kind of stuff motivates me to work harder and play harder," he said. "I am always trying to do new things and catch teams off guard. A lot of it is going to have to come with experience and reacting at the right time."
Howsare's impact will affect morethan his personal statistics.
"I can be disruptive by making players aware of me and forcing other teams to use more guys to block me and make them game plan around me," he said. "We have a very good team around me on defense. It'll open up other things for other guys and get them noticed, too."
His teammates selected Howsare as a captain.
"That's a great honor. That tells you what his teammates think of him, too," Foster said. "Julian has a great motor. He is a great competitor. He is a tremendous athlete. He is a tremendous worker. He is one of our best workers in the weight room and in workouts. He loves to compete and he hates to lose. As a coach, you love him playing defensive football for you."
Howsare looks forward to the Golden Eagles' opener on Sept. 7 at home against Kutztown. He wants to help Clarion improve on its 4-7 record, including a 2-5 PSAC-West mark, from a year ago.
"I am pretty excited. It's always good to get things going. I think we'll have a great season. A lot of people don't think the same way, but I think we'll surprise a lot of people. We have a good core and a lot of good people coming back. Individually, I just look to get better each week and build upon things I have done in the past."