Position: Running Back/Defensive Back
Recruiting situation: Committed to Syracuse
Opponent: Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) High, Sept. 12, 2013
What to Like
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Howard has the athleticism you look for at just about any position. He has good hips, strong legs, and is a natural runner. As a running back, he hits the holes with power and can break arm tackles with ease. As a defensive back, he is more willing to mix it up against the run than during his junior season. His closing speed has improved, as have his hips in his back pedal. When he arrives at a ball carrier, he comes with surprising power.
Howard's ability to read a play and react is improving. It is night and day from where he was just a year ago. He has solid hands that should allow him to make plays at the next level. Howard accelerates quickly both in coverage and when attacking an opposing ball carrier.
What Needs Work
It is clear that Howard is still learning the position. His footwork, at times, is off. He doesn't react naturally to a ball in the air quite yet. He's a bit stiff in coverage but can make up for it at the high school level with his athleticism. In college, he will have to develop those skills in order to stay on the field.
As a tackler, he is still learning proper technique both from an angle standpoint and wrapping up. Howard hasn't been tested much as a defensive back due to the lack of talented passing attacks in Central New York and opposing teams attacking the opposite side of the field. He will have to adjust to the talent level increase at the next level as well as work on technique.
Howard has upside. His raw skill set suggest he has the potential to be a solid division one defensive back. But he is still learning and it may take a few years before he realizes that potential. Syracuse fans should be patient with the local product as he becomes acclomated to his new position.