The Buffaloes are now at their scholarship limit for the fall. MacIntyre made the announcement in front of the team when they broke camp over the weekend.
“I had no idea it was coming,” Howard told BuffStampede.com. “When Coach Mac[Intyre] started talking about these two guys that are both graduating in December that have given all they've got to this program and they work hard every day, my heart just kind of stopped. And then when he said, 'Aaron Howard and Chris Hill are being placed on scholarship,' that was a powerful moment. I had to try to fight back some tears.”
Both played their high school football in Colorado, Howard at Denver East and Hill at Mountain Vista.
Aaron's father Paul played briefly with the Buffs and graduated from Colorado in 1982, so the younger Howard naturally grew up cheering for the black-and-gold. He played as a freshman at Willamette in 2012 before joining Colorado's program as a walk-on transfer.
“All my life I knew all I really wanted to do was come here and play football. That was a big motivation for me all my life,” Howard said. “Once I got put on scholarship, I got to get up in front of the team and share my story. That meant a lot to me.”
Howard is currently fifth in the pecking order at outside linebacker, while Hill is listed fourth in the tight end/H-back grouping. Both are regular contributors on special teams.
“I was hoping to climb the depth chart a little more but we have a lot of experience with Derek [McCartney] and Jimmie [Gilbert], and more talent with Terran [Hasselbach] and Christian [Shaver],” Howard said. “If the coaches ever need another guy, I'll be there to get the job done. I'm happy with where I am at on special teams, starting on kick return and getting a little work on kickoff coverage, so I will be excited for that.”
Hill is a fourth-year junior, but he has decided this will be his final season with the Buffaloes.
Monday practice notes -
*** The Buffaloes' staff spent much of the weekend analyzing footage of Colorado State from the second half of last season, and they began prepping the players for the Rams during Monday's practice.
“I am extremely impressed with their offensive line. They are big, they are good, and they have played together for a while,” MacIntyre said when talking about their in-state rival.
The Rams also return running back Dalyn Dawkins, who rushed for a game-high 118 yards and one touchdown against Colorado last fall.
*** MacIntyre said they have yet to determine whether redshirt freshman Steven Montez or senior Jordan Gerhke will serve as Sefo Liufau's back-up at quarterback to enter the season. He has been happy with the progress Liufau has shown with the first-team offense recently, after showing some rust at the beginning of the preseason.
“The last few practices, Sefo has been extremely accurate, mastering everything, and he got his vision back. So he has looked excellent to me,” MacIntyre said.
*** Classes began at Colorado on Monday, so the players' attention is now divided between football and academics.
“Instead of us having meetings with them in the afternoon, I will be checking classes this afternoon to make sure they are in class,” MacIntyre said. “I am pretty sure they will all be there, but I will make a little path through campus.”
*** The Buffaloes have nine more scheduled practices before the season opener.