Chancellor to wear No. 6 as tribute

Updated: October 20, 2009, 3:31 PM ET
Associated Press

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson cornerback Chris Chancellor will carry more than the memory of high school teammate Jasper Howard when he returns home to play Miami on Saturday.

Chancellor will wear Howard's No. 6 to honor his friend, the University of Connecticut player who was stabbed to death last weekend.

"It's going to be pretty emotional," Chancellor said Tuesday.

Not long after Chancellor learned the horrific news about Howard, he planned the tribute. The two played football and ran track for Miami Edison Senior High in 2003 and '04.

[+] EnlargeChris Chancellor
P Photo/Patrick CollardClemson cornerback Chris Chancellor will honor his former high school teammate by wearing No. 6 on Saturday.

"That's the first thing Chris texted me yesterday morning, saying he was going to wear Jazz's number," said Corey Bell, who is director of football operations at the University of Miami and coached Chancellor and Howard at Miami Edison. "It means a real lot to me, a real lot."

Chancellor learned from friends Sunday morning that Howard was killed during a fight outside a university-sponsored dance early Sunday. Nobody has been charged with the stabbing, and UConn police said Tuesday there were no new developments in the investigation.

Chancellor was shocked. He said Howard was a friendly, outgoing person who bonded with nearly everyone he met while trying to work his way out of Miami's projects.

"I thought I got to do something to honor Jazz because he had the opportunity to get up out of Miami and go somewhere and do something with his life," Chancellor said.

The 22-year-old Chancellor was an upperclassman and two-sport standout at Miami Edison when Howard arrived as a skinny, raw receiver.

The two went one-on-one on the practice field, the older Chancellor generally getting the better of things. Both were sprinters and long jumpers on the track team, traveling to meets together and learning about each other's lives.

"He was the type of guy who never messed with anybody and everybody liked him," Chancellor said.

Chancellor was sleeping in after the Tigers' 38-3 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday when his cell buzzed with the news: "Did you hear what happened to Jazz?"

A few more confused calls confirmed it. Right away, Chancellor thought to ask coach Dabo Swinney about switching from his usual jersey No. 38.

Chancellor was working out Monday morning with fellow senior Jacoby Ford, Clemson's usual No. 6, and asked if he thought Swinney would grant permission.

"Yeah, I think he'll let you if you tell him it's a teammate and good friend of yours," Ford said. "I definitely don't have a problem with him wearing No. 6."

Swinney quickly granted Chancellor's request.

"It breaks your heart," Swinney said. "Here's somebody with everything in the world going for him and it's just gone."

Chancellor stayed in touch with Howard with phone calls and text messages and took pride in how well his friend was doing.

Howard would walk to high school practices past Miami's rougher projects, Chancellor said, and had seemingly gotten away from troubling influences when he went to Connecticut. Chancellor recalled walking the Miami Edison halls discussing plans beyond college.

"You think when you send your son off to college, 'He's going to be saved,' " Chancellor said. "You can't stop violence wherever you go."

Playing a college game in Miami was a lifelong dream for Chancellor, who was a high school senior in 2004 the last time the Tigers played at their Atlantic Coast Conference rival.

Chancellor said he'll have Howard's smile in his mind throughout the game.

"He was great, an outgoing guy, always funny," Chancellor said. "We just had fun all the time."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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