Big Things Expected Of O.J. Howard

It really is not fair to label O.J. Howard a bust, and perhaps no one has. One recent article seemed to put the blame on the Alabama coaching staff, dragging out the old story of “The only one who could keep Michael Jordan from scoring was Dean Smith,” intimating that the offense isn’t using Howard enough.

O.J. Howard has had his moments in his first two seasons at Alabama, but there is reason to believe the upcoming junior tight end could be in break-out mode this year. There seemed little doubt at the end of spring practice that Howard was the number one tight end.

For the past two years Bama Coach Nick Saban has maintained that he considered Howard a first team player, and during that time the Prattville native had nine starts and plenty of snaps. However, most of those starts came in the Crimson Tide’s two-tight end look with Howard, frequently, in the slot.

Howard has been Alabama’s most productive receiver from the tight end position. Last year he had 17 catches for 260 yards. As a freshman he caught 14 passes for 269 yards. Meanwhile, Brian Vogler, the starting tight end the past two years, had a four-year career total of only 15 receptions for 116 yards, including 4 catches for 18 yards last year.

This year Howard should be the clear cut number one. To that end, the former number one-ranked prep tight end in the nation must become more than a receiver. He has added weight to his 6-6 frame and should be at about 250 when Alabama begins fall camp next week.

During spring practice, Saban said that receiving will continue to be a point of emphasis in the use of Howard. He is likely to show a slightly split look from the traditional tight end spot next to the tackle.

The advantage that Howard has in the passing game is that he is much faster than linebackers who might be asked to cover him and much bigger than defensive backs who draw the assignment. Howard has demonstrated good and bad with those attributes. Against LSU as a freshman, he took a pass and out-raced the secondary on a 52-yard touchdown run. But Tide fans are also aware that he might have caught the winning touchdown against Ole Miss in Oxford last season, but he was somewhat lackadaisical and lost a jump for the ball to a smaller defensive back.

Although his numbers aren’t bad, neither are they overwhelming. He has drawn some all-star consideration, placed on the watch list for the Mackey Award given to the nation’s top wide receiver and pre-season third-team All-Southeastern Conference.

For the record, Howard has 31 career receptions in 27 games for 529 yards (17.1 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. Of his 31 catches, 22 have been for first downs.

As for Howard’s competition in fall camp, Ty Flournoy-Smith seems to have joined Michael Nysewander at the H-back/fullback position, leaving only converted defensive lineman Dakota Ball and incoming freshman Hale Hentges as traditional tight end candidates.


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\r\nFor the past two years Bama Coach Nick Saban has maintained that he considered Howard a first team player, and during that time the Prattville native had nine starts and plenty of snaps. However, most of those starts came in the Crimson Tide’s two-tight end look with Howard, frequently, in the slot.\r\n

\r\nHoward has been Alabama’s most productive receiver from the tight end position. Last year he had 17 catches for 260 yards. As a freshman he caught 14 passes for 269 yards. Meanwhile, Brian Vogler, the starting tight end the past two years, had a four-year career total of only 15 receptions for 116 yards, including 4 catches for 18 yards last year.\r\n

\r\nThis year Howard should be the clear cut number one. To that end, the former number one-ranked prep tight end in the nation must become more than a receiver. He has added weight to his 6-6 frame and should be at about 250 when Alabama begins fall camp next week.\r\n

\r\nDuring spring practice, Saban said that receiving will continue to be a point of emphasis in the use of Howard. He is likely to show a slightly split look from the traditional tight end spot next to the tackle.\r\n

\r\nThe advantage that Howard has in the passing game is that he is much faster than linebackers who might be asked to cover him and much bigger than defensive backs who draw the assignment. Howard has demonstrated good and bad with those attributes. Against LSU as a freshman, he took a pass and out-raced the secondary on a 52-yard touchdown run. But Tide fans are also aware that he might have caught the winning touchdown against Ole Miss in Oxford last season, but he was somewhat lackadaisical and lost a jump for the ball to a smaller defensive back.\r\n

\r\nAlthough his numbers aren’t bad, neither are they overwhelming. He has drawn some all-star consideration, placed on the watch list for the Mackey Award given to the nation’s top wide receiver and pre-season third-team All-Southeastern Conference.\r\n

\r\nFor the record, Howard has 31 career receptions in 27 games for 529 yards (17.1 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. Of his 31 catches, 22 have been for first downs.\r\n

\r\nAs for Howard’s competition in fall camp, Ty Flournoy-Smith seems to have joined Michael Nysewander at the H-back/fullback position, leaving only converted defensive lineman Dakota Ball and incoming freshman Hale Hentges as traditional tight end candidates.","mobileBody":"

O.J. Howard has had his moments in his first two seasons at Alabama, but there is reason to believe the upcoming junior tight end could be in break-out mode this year. There seemed little doubt at the end of spring practice that Howard was the number one tight end.

For the past two years Bama Coach Nick Saban has maintained that he considered Howard a first team player, and during that time the Prattville native had nine starts and plenty of snaps. However, most of those starts came in the Crimson Tide’s two-tight end look with Howard, frequently, in the slot.

Howard has been Alabama’s most productive receiver from the tight end position. Last year he had 17 catches for 260 yards. As a freshman he caught 14 passes for 269 yards. Meanwhile, Brian Vogler, the starting tight end the past two years, had a four-year career total of only 15 receptions for 116 yards, including 4 catches for 18 yards last year.

This year Howard should be the clear cut number one. To that end, the former number one-ranked prep tight end in the nation must become more than a receiver. He has added weight to his 6-6 frame and should be at about 250 when Alabama begins fall camp next week.

During spring practice, Saban said that receiving will continue to be a point of emphasis in the use of Howard. He is likely to show a slightly split look from the traditional tight end spot next to the tackle.

The advantage that Howard has in the passing game is that he is much faster than linebackers who might be asked to cover him and much bigger than defensive backs who draw the assignment. Howard has demonstrated good and bad with those attributes. Against LSU as a freshman, he took a pass and out-raced the secondary on a 52-yard touchdown run. But Tide fans are also aware that he might have caught the winning touchdown against Ole Miss in Oxford last season, but he was somewhat lackadaisical and lost a jump for the ball to a smaller defensive back.

Although his numbers aren’t bad, neither are they overwhelming. He has drawn some all-star consideration, placed on the watch list for the Mackey Award given to the nation’s top wide receiver and pre-season third-team All-Southeastern Conference.

For the record, Howard has 31 career receptions in 27 games for 529 yards (17.1 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. Of his 31 catches, 22 have been for first downs.

As for Howard’s competition in fall camp, Ty Flournoy-Smith seems to have joined Michael Nysewander at the H-back/fullback position, leaving only converted defensive lineman Dakota Ball and incoming freshman Hale Hentges as traditional tight end candidates.","skipOnMobile":true,"skipOnMobileReason":"Unsupported Markup","unsupportedMarkup":"script","media":[],"dateOverride":"2015-07-29T10:45:00","authorOverride":"Kirk McNair","role":"","isPremium":false,"isHotNews":false,"isRumor":false,"syndicationFlag":true,"isClassified":true,"hotNamesLinked":true,"storyImage":"[MEDIA:1352284]","mainImage":{"url":"[MEDIA:1352284]"},"thumbnailImage":"[THUMBNAIL:1352284]","heroImage":{},"authorImage":"[MEDIA:1306037]","tags":[{"id":"589","name":"Alabama"},{"id":"10020","name":"Alabama - 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