Two Hudson Valley Football Players Sign National Letter of Intent

CONTACT: Steve Mullen (518) 629-8063
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Friday, January 9, 2004

Two Hudson Valley Community College football players have signed a National Letter of Intent to continue their education and play football at a four-year university next year.

John Howell IV (Columbia, SC/Lower Richland High School), the leading tackler on the 2003 Hudson Valley team, will enroll at New Mexico State University. Meanwhile, fullback Atiba Taylor (Spring Valley/Ramapo High School) has agreed to attend Northern Michigan University.

"Our football program has had a tremendous year," Hudson Valley head coach Bob Jojo said. "Atiba and John were very instrumental in helping us get to a bowl game and I wish them continued success at their new schools. They are just the first of several of our student-athletes that will likely be rewarded with scholarships for their hard work."

Taylor and Howell were able to sign during the mid-year junior college transfer period because they already have received their degrees from Hudson Valley. The regular signing period for football begins on February 4, 2004.

A two-year starter at linebacker for the Vikings, Howell earned First Team All-Northeast Football Conference honors in 2003 after making 63 tackles and two sacks. He was second on the team with 48 tackles and added three sacks in 2002.

Howell came to Hudson Valley after serving four years in the United States Army.

"John's a mature kid with a military background," New Mexico State head coach Tony Samuel said. "Couple that with his ability on the field and those are major pluses. We are thinking he can step in and play Sam linebacker and give us some immediate help."

Taylor started all 10 games at fullback for Hudson valley in 2003. Used primarily as a blocker, Taylor also carried the ball 29 times for 167 yards and caught seven passes for 179 yards.

"Atiba gives us a dimension in our offense that we have been seeking, a big physical running back who can pound people and can also be effective as a receiver out of the backfield," Northern Michigan head coach Doug Sams said. "He shows the ability to do all the things that a running back is required to do-run, catch, and block. We have been doing it by committee because we were in a situation where our running backs could not do all three. He will be a person that we can have touch the ball 30-40 times per game."

New Mexico State, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, finished the 2003 season with a 3-9 record. The Aggies have accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference in 2005.

Northern Michigan plays in one of the top Division II conferences in the country that includes two-time defending Division II national champion Grand Valley State University. The Wildcats, who play in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, finished the year with a 3-8 record.

Hudson Valley, located in Troy, New York, finished the 2003 season ranked 15th in the final National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) poll with an 8-2 record. The Vikings earned an invitation to The Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Hudson Valley's football program was established in 1969. At the time, Hudson Valley was one of only two junior colleges in New York to field a varsity football team. Since then, nearly 300 Hudson Valley football players have earned scholarships to four-year schools and 15 have gone on to play professionally. The Vikings competed in the Coca-Cola Bowl in 1980. In 1996, Hudson Valley posted an 8-0 record, part of a dominant stretch that included 14 straight victories.