Howard Both Recruit And Tide Recruiter

Although O.J. Howard ended his 2013 recruiting process more than a year and a half before he signed to play football for Alabama, that didn't mean recruiting was over for the nation's top-ranked tight end.

O.J. Howard, a 6-6, 235-pound tight end from Autauga Academy in Prattville, announced on July 18, 2011, that he had decided on Alabama. Moreover, Howard did not take any other recruiting trips. Beyond that, whenever he had the chance – such as playing in the prestigious Under Armour All-Star game at the end of the 2012 season -- Howard was recruiting other players for the Crimson Tide.

Howard entered The University in January and will take part in the Fourth Quarter program and spring practice. Howard was a five-star prospect by, which also named him the No. 1 tight end prospect in the nation.

On Signing Day, Howard said that he had helped the Alabama staff in the recruiting process. "Whenever you can get recruits to come in and have a great class, it means a lot," he said. "That's how you keep winning championships. You can't just stop rebuilding."

And Howard did more than just talk the talk.

"I went to a lot of camps last summer, and at every camp I went to I tried to get guys to come to Alabama. Dee Liner (four-star defensive lineman from Muscle Shoals) is one of the biggest guys I think I had an impact on. Dee's my boy, and he ended up coming here, so I'm happy."

Wait a minute. O.J. is taking credit for recruiting Liner?

"I'm claiming him," Howard said.

Howard said that Liner talked about the two of them going together to Auburn, where Liner was originally committed, but Howard argued, "Man, let's go to Bama. They're winning championships."

Howard said, "He saw the bigger picture."

Howard said he knew Liner was planning to sign with Alabama when the two played in the Under Armour game and Liner told Howard he would be going to Tuscaloosa. Howard didn't feel he had to keep it a secret. "He told everybody," Howard said.

Although Howard missed part of his senior season with an injury, he had 854 yards of offense and 12 touchdowns. He also played defense and had 57 tackles. Howard was the Alabama Sports Writers Association Lineman of the Year in the Alabama Independent Schools Association.

Chad Simmons, South Regional manager for recruiting, said, "Howard is a very athletic tight end. He can run, he really makes adjustments on the ball well, and he has a lot of room to get better. He did not face true competition in high school, so making the move to the SEC will be something to watch. He needs to add muscle mass, improve his blocking technique, and just continue to play physical. He will be a real threat down the field and could create mismatches on the next level."

One question to be answered is which of the two "tight end" positions Howard will play at Alabama. The Tide uses a traditional tight end, the ‘Y' where Michael Williams played the past three years, and the ‘H' where Kelly Johnson played in 2012. Both Williams and Johnson have graduated.

"It just depends on what they want me to do," Howard said. "I can put weight on and play Y. Or play H. If it's up to me, I'll play both. I'm looking forward to playing a little bit of both."

One plus he sees no matter where he plays is the return of A.J. McCarron to quarterback. "That was a big plus," Howard said. "Having a veteran quarterback is going to do a lot for our offense. Hopefully we can pick up where they left off last year."

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