Sam Howell was named the starting quarterback for the North Carolina football team on August 26, 2019. A month and a half later, at the midway point of UNC's season, it seems like a perfectly fair time to ask:
Is he having the best season ever for a UNC quarterback?
Here's a rundown of his 2019 so far: On Aug. 31 against South Carolina, Howell became the only true first-year to start a season opener in program history. Then, he led back-to-back touchdown drives in the fourth quarter in a 24-20 win.
A week later, at home against Miami, Howell converted a late 4th-and-17, then found Rontavius "Toe" Groves in the end zone with 1:01 left to pull out a 28-25 win. He finished with 274 passing yards and two touchdowns, and delivered UNC its first 2-0 start since 2014.
After three straight losses sent the Tar Heels reeling, the Indian Trail, N.C. native had the best game of his young career to get his team back on track, throwing for four touchdowns and a career-high 376 yards in a 38-22 win over Georgia Tech.
All told, Howell's thrown for 1,544 yards and tossed 15 touchdowns in 2019, adding a score on the ground for good measure and leading the Tar Heels to a 3-3 record.
He's certainly on pace for the best rookie season by a Tar Heel. The only comparable campaign from recent memory is T.J. Yates' 2007 year, his first in Chapel Hill, in which he threw for 2,655 yards to go along with 14 touchdowns and 18 picks.
Howell, meanwhile, has thrown just three picks and is on track to match Mitch Trubisky's program record of 30 passing touchdowns in a season. He could also become the fifth UNC quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season, with the others – Marquise Williams (twice), Renner (twice), T.J. Yates and Trubisky – all being upperclassmen at the time.
That's some feat for a 19-year-old who was in high school less than a year ago.