Sam Howell photo

Quarterback Sam Howell, middle, is a preseason all-American entering his sophomore season at UNC. Howell starred at Sun Valley High from 2015-18.

MONROE — While some college football conferences have moved their season until the spring of 2021, many will open their season this weekend.

Union County will have its share of former athletes wearing college uniforms this fall, and here are three players to keep an eye on.

Sam Howell, UNCA sophomore quarterback who graduated from Sun Valley High, Howell started every game for the Tar Heels in 2019 and was voted ACC Rookie of the Year. The Tar Heels open 2020 at Syracuse on Saturday, Sept. 12, starting at noon.

As a freshman, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Howell threw for 3,641 yards and 38 touchdowns against seven interceptions, helping the Heels finish 7-6. His 38 TD passes broke the national record for TD passes by a true freshman in a season at the FBS level.

In June of 2020, Athlon Sports selected Howell a third-team preseason all-American.

The website projects the 2022 NFL Draft with Howell being taken second overall in the first round by Washington.

Emeka Emezie, N.C. StateA 6-foot-3, 210-pound receiver from Marvin Ridge High, Emery enters his senior season ranked 13th all-time in receptions at N.C. State with 122. As a junior in 2019, Emezie caught 56 passes for 576 yards and two touchdowns. He has 1,355 career receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

A sports management major, Emezie has 23 career starts at N.C. State.

According to, Emezie is one of N.C. State’s top three NFL prospects, along with senior tight end Cary Angeline and junior defensive tackle Alim McNeill.

N.C. State will open the 2020 season on Sept. 19 at home against Wake Forest starting at 8 p.m.

Jeremiah Miller, Stephen F. AustinA 6-foot, 195-pound receiver who caught passes from Howell at Sun Valley for two seasons (2015 and 2016), Jeremiah Miller spent three years at FBS-school Coastal Carolina University before transferring to an FCS school, Stephen F. Austin, during the offseason.

Miller started seven games for the Chanticleers in 2019 and finished with 19 catches for 248 yards and a touchdown. Miller started 15 games during his career at Coastal, including eight as a redshirt freshman, when he caught 21 passes for 272 yards. As a freshman in 2017, Miller made the Sun Belt Academic Honor Roll for carrying at least a 3.0 GPA for the 2017-18 academic year.

Stephen F. Austin opens the 2020 season at the University of Texas-San Antonio on Sept. 19 starting at 3 p.m.