Tracy Howard does the Gator chomp


Five-star cornerback and one time UF-lean Tracy Howard just might be favoring the Gators again.

At least it looked that way on Saturday night.

The Miramar standout made his presence known early in the 2011 FHSAA class 8A state championship game against Tampa Plant. With the score tied at 7 in the first quarter, he made his 10th pick of the year and showed off his secondary skills on the play.

When Plant quarterback James Few rolled out of the pocket, Howard let his receiver get behind him and made Few feel that he could thread the zone coverage. As soon as the ball was released, Howard leaped in front of the floater and added some extra yards on the interception return.

But it was the celebration afterward that made Tracy Howard a trending topic on Twitter.

As he headed to the sidelines, the 6-foot, 175-pounder did the Gator chomp and then blew a kiss toward the Miramar cheering section.

But he wasn’t charming the fans.

Howard was responding to the Gator chomp of UF defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, as he stood in the stands alongside head coach Will Muschamp and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson (seen below courtesy of Tim Casey, Gator Country).

The three spent the evening sitting next to Tracy’s mother, Shaiy Howard, who was decked out in Gator gear and is a big Florida fan (below is a picture of her before the game).

UF also had coaches Brian White, Aubrey Hill, Derek Lewis and Bryant Young at the game, by far outnumbering the other staffs in attendance.

Howard recently named Florida and Florida State as his top two teams in a video interview, and his chomp suggests the Gators could have the edge at the moment.

But as much as Shaiy Howard would love for her son to go to UF, she tweeted that Tracy’s celebration was just him showing appreciation — not favoritism — to the Florida coaches.

“Tracy did the Gator Chomp to show love to the coaching staff for coming out and supporting him in his last high school game! No Commitment,” she said on Twitter.

There was a possibility Howard would announce at the Army All-American Bowl in January, but now that decision likely won’t come until National Signing Day. After the 31-20 loss to Plant, Howard told reporters he will take official visits after the all-star game to Alabama, LSU and USC or Florida. He has already been to West Virginia (Oct. 7) and FSU (Nov. 11).

Howard said the last trip is a toss up because he’s been to Gainesville so many times and would like to check out USC. However, UF still may get the nod because of his heavy interest in the Gators and how much he likes the coaches.

That was apparent Saturday night.