Howard calls Ole Miss 'perfect'

Ole Miss graduated all four starters on the defensive line last year. A big need for 2006 recruiting was up front on the defense. They got a big guy to help fill the big need in Hayward Howard. Read about it inside.

Due to Hurricane Katrina and a late favorable ruling on his academic status, mid-semester Rebel signee Hayward Howard was not able to attend the school he signed with last year - Michigan State.

The Spartans' loss is the Rebels' gain.

Howard ended up going to Eastern Arizona Junior College for one semester after Katrina devastated his home town of New Orleans and he could not get an answer from the NCAA on his academic status.

In his only JUCO campaign, Howard got his name back on the recruiting map when he registered 98 tackles, 27 of which were for losses.

"I had a real good year," said the 6-4, 300-pounder in an understatement.

Howard visited and got an offer from Auburn, but then Ole Miss RB Coach Frank Wilson, a New Orleans native, got wind of Hayward's eligibility status and it was all she wrote.

Hayward visited Ole Miss and committed on the 50-yard line of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night of his official visit.

"Coach Frank knew of me and I know all about him from having played ball in New Orleans. Once I saw the campus and the facilities, I didn't need to see anything else," Howard noted. "It also helped that Ole Miss needs defenisve linemen and needs immediate help up front."

Currently, Howard is going through the grueling offseason program at UM.

"I can barely walk. They (the S&C coaches) have killed me already. Now they are bringing me back from the dead," he laughed. "I've never been through anything like this before, but I can't say it's a surprise. I expected it to be tough and it needs to be tough so we can all be in shape and be ready for spring training."

Howard said he's going through a total makeover, so to speak.

"It's all about bigger, faster, stronger. I want all three. I'm working on a lot of explosive moves, but I'm looking to improve everything," he said. "I'm 300 pounds right now and I'd like to be about 290 when the season rolls around for movement purposes."

His goals are simple for spring, summer and August.

"I want to get in the best shape I can, earn a starting spot, keep a starting spot and have fun. Later this week, we are supposed to meet with DL Coach Ryan Nielsen and I'm hoping to get started on some techniques and things to work on my own before March 6 comes around."

Howard wants to be prepared to strut his stuff when the time comes.

"I'm pretty easy going off the field. Nothing really bothers me, but when I put on those pads, I have a little mean streak that takes over," he stated. "When I'm on the football field, I mean business.

"I can't wait for spring to roll around to mark my territory. I want to own the line of scrimmage."

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