High praise for Howard

Top junior wide receivers were abound all over campus at the USC Junior Elite Day. Westlake wide out Theo Howard was among those top 2016 prospects.

Westlake Village (Calif.) wide out Theo Howard has plenty of suitors going into the spring, but Saturday was USC’s first chance to grab his interest in person.

Howard made a long awaited unofficial visit to USC for the Trojans Elite Junior Invite. Long awaited because Howard hasn’t seen much of USC beyond Howard Jones Field and a parking structure.

“I’ve never really seen the campus,” said Howard. “I’ve been to campus, but I walk straight to the practices fields and that’s about it.

“So seeing the facilities was the highlight. Athletically and academically, I loved the campus. I also got to spend time with Coach Tee Martin and the other coaches, so that was nice. I normally just talk to coach Tee and Coach Tuiasosopo, so it was good to meet the other coaches.”

Of course, there was one moment Howard had at USC which was more memorable than the rest.

“The feeling of putting that USC jersey on,” said Howard.

Howard, 6-foot-1, 175-pounds, had 52 receptions for 869-yards and seven touchdowns last season. Speaking with Tee Martin one-on-one, the Trojan receivers coach had high praise for the four-star junior.

“They feel I can be the type of guy that comes in and makes an impact for them early,” said Howard. “They said I’m a must get guy and they definitely like the skill set I bring to the table.

“They like how I’m a good kid with good character. They’ve been by my school, and Coach Tee mentioned they’ll be recruiting me at this time next year. I’ll be making my decision then, so it’s good to know they’re good guys and I have that option.”

Howard is often linked with scholarship offers from Oregon, Michigan, UCLA, Arizona State, Texas A&M and others, it will be one of many options.

“I’ve always liked USC,” said Howard. “I’ve always had my eye on USC and it’s definitely a dream to get an offer from them.

“They’ve had so much success. All of the athletes and players they’ve had come through there have gone on and done great things in the NFL, so they’re definitely up there.”

On the flip side, Howard is one of a handful of very talented wide receivers in the 2016 recruiting cycle. Joining him at USC Saturday were top receiver prospects like Bishop Amat’s Tyler Vaughns, Santa Margarita’s Dylan Crawford, Corona Centennial’s Javon McKinley, Long Beach Poly’s Jack Jones and Oaks Christina’s Michael Pittman.

“I talk to Dylan Crawford, Michael Pittman, David Long… a lot of guys and they all have offers,” said Howard. “I definitely try to gather thoughts from other athletes, but I’m not close to making a decision yet, so it’s not like I’m recruiting them for a specific school either.”

Howard has no plans to commit in the immediate future, but he hints that he probably won’t wait until signing day 2016 either.

“I don’t want a decision to longer, but then I don’t want to rush into anything either,” said Howard. “I really liked USC, but I haven’t seen many other schools either. If I feel that need to commit to a school just based on the feeling I get stepping on campus, I could.

“I’m looking for a school with great academics, and has the talent surrounding me to win championships. I also want great coaches who will help me grow and a player and as a man. I want them to elevate my talent and help me get to the NFL.”

Next month, Howard wants to waste no time seeing some of his options in person.

“In February, I want to go out to TCU, Texas A&M, Oregon, Washington and Oregon State,” said Howard. “I like how those teams play, and I’ve never been to Texas. They lve and breath football out there so I’d like see what it’s like.”

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