Big Haywood Howard from Eastern Arizona College has endured a crazy year of indecision, but hard work and one fall of junior college football has him ready to take on the rigors of Division I football.
A 6-4 1/2, 285-pounder out of New Orleans' Carver High, Howard signed with Michigan State following a senior season that saw him make 115 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks and three safeties as a defensive tackle. Playing both defensive and offensive tackle in high school, he received a lot of attention before deciding on the Big 10 school. That's when things turned crazy for Howard.
Howard is a physical presence who could play offense or defense on the next level.
Failing to qualify originally, Howard was preparing to head to a junior college. That's when his final summer school grades came back and he had done enough to graduate. That coupled with a qualifying test score had him ready, the only problem was that Michigan State didn't have room to bring him in to campus in August with the 2005 signee class. Instead of going to a another college, Howard chose to head west to Eastern Arizona for junior college football with the Gila Monsters.
"He qualified late," EA coach Anthony Redding tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "It was at the very last minute. At the last minute Michigan State said he couldn't go. That's how he wound up here."
A player who is just filling out his nearly six-foot-five frame, Howard finished tied for third for the Monsters with six sacks as a freshman and also added 45 solo tackles. His size and physical ability made him a good pass rusher, something that Redding says has him high on several teams' lists.
"He played defensive tackle for us," Redding says. "The guy has great footwork and can run. He didn't make a lot of plays for us, but he did some things and played the whole game. He's being recruited as a defensive lineman. He's being recruited by Oregon State, LSU, Auburn and Michigan State was recruiting him as well. He's supposed to be going to Oregon State after he leaves Auburn and I think Kentucky is one as well."
A player with four years left to play three seasons, he can trasfer to a Division I program in January. Howard is an interesting prospect because of his background on both sides of the ball in high school and his athleticism for such a big prospect. Redding says that this season he showed the ability to play defense because of his quickness off the ball.
"His hand speed is pretty good," Redding says. "He pressures the quarterback well. He's got good speed, especially for a defensive lineman. He's got a decent motor on him."