Profile: Theo Howard
Position: Wide Receiver
Location: Westlake (Calif.)
Weight: 175 pounds
Recruiting: Howard originally committed to Oregon back in the spring but de-committed late in the summer. UCLA was his No. 2 choice behind Oregon at the time he committed and the Bruins immediately jumped to the top of his board. He visited Westwood unofficially and also took an official visit. He officially visited Texas A&M as well and also gave USC a hard look. In the end, Howard said his desire to stay close to home, his relationship with UCLA WR coach Eric Yarber and the opportunity to play early put the Bruins on top.
What to Like: Howard has as much upside as any receiver in the West region. You can't teach speed, true game breaking speed and Howard brings a ton of it to the table. He's a legit home run threat every time he touches the ball and can run past a defense and catch the deep ball or take a short hitch, make a few defenders miss and get to the house. Howard isn't just a speed receiver, he's a polished route runner with soft hands and understands how to get open. He can set up a defender and knows how to change speeds and use angles to create separation. He's versatile enough to put out wide or in the slot and should be a potential game breaker on punt and kick returns as well.
Areas to improve: Howard has been banged up, on and off, a bit over the last year and adding some weight and strength should help him take the physical pounding he'll surely take in college. Howard is a finesse receiver right now, he's not as physical as he'll need to be, so adding some toughness, which the extra size and strength he'll add, should help in this area.
Overall Analysis: Howard was a huge pickup for the Bruins. He's a top 50 player nationally and fills a huge need. UCLA hasn't had a true game breaker at the receiver position in years and Howard has the ability to be that guy the program desperately needs. He's a national recruit who had his choice of just about any school in the country and UCLA was able to keep him close to home. He'll be an early graduate and will be able to participate in spring ball. That should enhance his opportunity to learn the offense and see the field as soon as next fall. If he can stay healthy, Howard has tremendous potential and should give the Bruins a dimension the team really needs.