Shonderius Howard made the biggest jump of his life in May.
Now, he is about to do it again.
With a pair of second-place finishes at the Class 3A State Track & Field Meet providing motivation, the Lampasas high jumper concluded his high school career by finally earning the gold medal that eluded him for years.
It still took weeks, however, before the emotions set in.
“It finally happened at graduation,” Howard said. “Our salutatorian actually mentioned me winning state in his speech, and that’s really when it hit me what a big accomplishment it was.”
Just days prior to winning the program’s first state title in track since 2004, Howard committed to Oklahoma after an impressive performance at the prestigious Texas Relays caught the attention of Sooners’ recruiters.
While many of his peers are relaxing during summer vacation, Howard is frantically preparing to make a leap across the state line with hopes of creating an immediate impact.
It is an exhausting process.
“I am sore all the time,” Howard said. “I work out four days a week, but I’m sore seven days a week.”
Howard said the opportunity to thrive collegiately makes the rigorous schedule worth it. But not even the grueling offseason workouts snap Howard into reality.
Much like it took time to fully appreciate his crowning achievement on the track, he is still unable to wrap his head around the fact bigger things still await.
“Right now, it hasn’t quite hit me,” Howard said. “I’m still just in the stage where it is cool to say I’m a Division I athlete.”
A little more than a month separates Howard from his new home in Norman, but constant communication with members of Oklahoma’s coaching staff is helping ease the transition even if the workouts are shocking to his system.
The former two-sport athlete, who also guided the Badgers basketball team to the playoffs for the first time in a dozen years during his senior season, is doing everything he can to become stronger and more explosive. The goal is to walk into Oklahoma ready to compete, and then allow the Sooners’ staff to simply focus on polishing his skills.
With his eyes set on some lofty goals, Howard must capitalize on every opportunity to improve.
“Coming in, I really want to shoot for being named to the All-Big 12 Team,” he said.
“I think that I can with just how much training I’m going to be doing and where I’m already at. I think it is definitely possible.”
Although his aspirations are set sky high, chasing and catching dreams is nothing new for Howard. He has been doing that for years.
Making the jump into life as a college student-athlete, on the other hand, is somewhat overwhelming.
“I’m feeling a little bit of everything,” Howard said. “I’m nervous for all the studying, intense school work, intense practices and all the hours I’ll log, but I’m pretty excited for it and just to be on the next level and at an elite school.
“Of course, I’m going to miss home, but I’ll get over it.”