Senior place-kicker is seventh Wildcat in eight years to earn prestigious honor
General: NU's starting place-kicker for three-plus years ... Three-year letterwinner ... Former walk-on who matured both physically and mentally to handle the place-kicking duties ... Ranks sixth on NU's all-time field goals made list with 23 ... Ranks second all-time at NU in PAT kicks made (77) ... Inside 40 yards, was 18-of-25 from field goal range his final three seasons (2004-06) ... Northwestern's National Coca-Cola Community All-American nominee ... Played his final season (2006) while enrolled in graduate school ... Delivered a moving eulogy (representing NU's football team) at Randy Walker's Memorial Service on July 6, 2006.
2006: Academic All-Big Ten ... Wuerffel Trophy finalist (community service, academics and athletics) ... Named to the AFCA's Good Works Team@ on Sept. 13 -- one of 11 Division I-A players to be recognized for his charitable contributions to the community ... Earned his third career Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honor for his career-ending performance against Illinois: two field goals, two PAT kicks and a successful onside kick -- and equaling his season high with eight points ... Booted a season-long 43-yard field goal vs. Purdue ... Season-high eight points vs. MSU ... Had three PAT kicks at Miami ... 23-of-24 on PAT attempts (had one blocked at Wisconsin) ... Converted his first FG attempt with a 35-yard boot against New Hampshire ... Averaged 61.5 yards on kickoffs at Miami, five yards better than his career average ... 63.3 yards per kickoff average vs. Eastern Michigan ... Averaged 60.0 yards per kickoff, with 14 of his 45 kicks being downed for touchbacks.
2005: Academic All-Big Ten ... ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District first-team selection ... Named the Big Ten's Special Teams Player of the Week for performance against Penn State: school-record five field goals (out of six attempts) and two PAT's for a school-record-tying 17 points (by a kicker) ... Booted field goals of 20, 25, 42, 46 and 25 yards vs. the Nittany Lions ... His final kick had given NU a 29-27 lead with 2:10 remaining in the game ... His five field goals are second most on the Big Ten's all-time list ... Also named to Lou Groza Award's "Stars of the Week," which recognizes three top kickers ... Earned his second Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week honor for his performance against Iowa, most importantly for his perfect execution of NU's onside kick, which NU recovered ... That play was one of four designated by ESPN as a national "Pontiac Game Changing Performance" ... Also kicked four PAT's in the game, including the game-winning point in the 28-27 win ... Totaled nine points (one field goal, six PAT's vs. Wisconsin) ... Team's second-leading scorer with 78 points (ranked 10th in Big Ten with 6.5 ppg) ... Converted 45-of-48 PAT kicks ... Equaled a single-game school record with seven-of-seven PAT kicks at Michigan State ... Registered 8 points (one FG, five PAT's) at Illinois ... Hit 9-of-last-15 field goal attempts (three of the attempts came from 46, 50 and 56 yards) ... Booted a 33-yard field goal and a PAT kick vs. UCLA in the Sun Bowl.
2004: Academic All-Big Ten ... Handled all PAT/FG kicks in final three games ... Hit two-of-three field goals (23 and 32 yards) vs. Michigan, with the miss, a 36-yarder, getting blocked ... Drilled career-long 43- and 46-yard field goals at Hawaii ... Converted 9-of-10 PAT attempts ... Finished fifth in team scoring.
2003: Handled kickoff duties in the Miami game ... Also attempted a PAT and field goal in the Wisconsin game ... Recorded a pair of special teams tackles -- both solo hits -- one each vs. Miami and Wisconsin.
2002: Did not see action.
High School: Did not join football squad until junior season ... All-conference ... Connected on four-of-seven field goal attempts and 33-of-36 extra points his senior season ... 40 touchbacks ... Starred against Yorkville, nailing all three of his field goal attempts and three of four extra points while producing touchbacks on all eight of his kickoffs ... Special teams player of the year ... Earned 2002 Sycamore Athlete of the Year award after lettering 10 times (2 -- football, 3 -- soccer, 3 -- basketball, 2 -- baseball) ... Captained soccer and baseball squads ... Superior honor roll student, ranking fourth in his class ... National Honor Society member ... High school coach was Daryl Graves.
Personal: Born Joel Gregory Howells on 10/17/83 ... Son of Gregory and Sherri Howells ... Earned an undergraduate degree in economics and minored in business institutions ... Enrolled in the communication studies master's program.
The Howells File
Q: If you could dine with anyone from any period in history, who would it be?
A: The Apostle Paul
Q: If you could have a starring role in any film already made, which movie would you pick?
Q: If you could choose the title of your autobiography, what would it be?
A: Simply Joel
Q: If you had to choose the best television show ever made, which one would you pick?
Q: Something people would be surprised to know about me is ...
A: I used to have a really bad temper
Q: My favorite pregame ritual is ...
A: I just relax and pray
Q: The best thing about NU is ...
A: The people I have met
Q: The best book I have ever read is ...
A: "Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis
Q: My ultimate SportsCenter highlight would be ...
A: Hitting a 52-yard field goal to win the Big Ten Championship
Q: My favorite place to visit is ...
Q: The person that inspires me the most is ...
A: My family, each in their own way
Q: My favorite food is ...
A: Ice cream -- I especially like the Bubble Gum flavor
Q: Which current NU football player is the biggest jokester?
A: Demetrius Eaton
Howells' Career Statistics
G Att Made Lg Pct
2003 3 1 0 0 0.0
2004 8 5 4 46 80.0
2005 12 21 11 46 52.4
2006 12 12 8 43 66.7
TOTAL 35 39 23 46 59.0