Verbal View: Antonio Howard

Antonio Howard obviously brings speed to the Mountaineer commitment list, but he has other attributes that could help him contribute quickly to a team that is working every avenue possible to strengthen its defense.

Howard, the son of former Mountaineer wide receiver Antonio Brown, inherited his father's speed. However, he uses that to blanket receivers, not catch passes as his father did. Antonio was a solid player for the Mountaineers, catching 155 passes for 1905 yards and six scores during a four-year (1998-2001) career. His son, though, will be looking to pile up numbers that oppose his father's achievements.

WHAT TO LIKE:

It might seem like beating a dead horse, but there's no way to overestimate the impact of Howard's speed. He can run with any receiver, and often doesn't need help to defend deep routes. That speed is accompanied by a quick break on the ball in the air, which makes maintaining separation very difficult for opposing receivers.

An overlooked aspect of his ability is his hitting. Although he's in the 175-pound range, he brings every ounce of it to bear when hitting opponents, and often breaks up passes with well-timed breaks and tackles. He is also a blocking demon on returns, and covers the entire field on punt and kickoff coverage units.

POSSIBLE CONCERNS:

Listed at 5-11, Howard might have a bit of a problem against taller outside receivers, but that's not evident in available video. His timing, mentioned above, is very good, and he also high points the ball, attacking it before the receiver can get a bead on it and tuck it away.

Other than that, there aren't any glaring issues to be seen in Howard's game. Technique, as always can use some work, but his many camp honors and highly-regarded scholarship offers demonstrate that schools across the country think he's an outstanding college player in the making.

Howard did back off a pair of previous commitments to FIU and Cincinnati, and also switched high schools during his career. That leads to a bit of a question about the permanence of this latest commitment, so it's likely that the WVU staff will put in all effort available to keep him in the fold.

OVERALL ANALYSIS:

In Howard, West Virginia sees a player that can help in a variety of ways. He has played both corner and safety during his high school career, and has shown enough ability at both to make him a serious candidate for any position across the back of the Mountaineer defense. He arrives fast, hits hard and puts opponents on the ground. For good measure, he delivers thunderbolt blocks and is a willing participant on coverage teams. Add in the Mountaineer legacy, and Howard's choice of WVU snaps into place with puzzle-peice perfection.

The 17th commitment in WVU's quickly narrowing commitment list, Howard is the fifth defensive back in the class. However, with five spots to fill (two corners, spur, bandit and free safety), his addition by no means crowds up the picture for defensive coordinator Tony Gibson. And if he can perform in college the way he did in high school, the Mountaineers will have another competitive piece to work with in the years ahead.

Class of 2015 WVU Football Verbal Commitments


BlueGoldNews Top Stories