Ricky Howard, a former star on Hesperia High School's football team, signed a letter of intent to play at Iowa State next year. Howard spent the past two seasons as a standout on the Chaffey College team.


A 6-3, 250-pounder, Howard was named to first team all-National Central Conference this season after catching 11 passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns in six games as a sophomore with the Panthers. Last season as a freshman, he earned second team Southern California Football Association National Division Central Conference honors at Chaffey.


Howard verbally committed to the Cyclones last summer. He'll join four other community college players taken by the Cyclones in the early signing season. They'll be part of an Iowa State program that improved from 2-10 in 2008 to 6-6 this season under first-year coach Paul Rhoads, earning a berth in the Insight Bowl against Minnesota in Tempe, Ariz., on Dec. 30.


Howard is scheduled to travel next month to the campus in Ames, Iowa, when he'll enroll in classes and prepare for spring football practice.