MOBILE, Ala. — Alabama tight end O.J. Howard was all about the team throughout his career wearing crimson, but this week of practice at the Senior Bowl is different.
“It’s a job interview, so you want to make a great impression,” said Howard, one of four players from the Tide who will hit the practice field with the South team today at 2:15 p.m. ET (TV: NFL Network).
“At Alabama, we had a lot of talent around us, so we spread the ball around a lot,” said Howard, who hails from Prattville, Ala., 2 1/2 hours northeast of Mobile. “The reason I came here was to do the one on ones … showcase my skills, and run some great routes.”
Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage, a former NFL general manager who also does color commentary for Alabama games, expects great things from Howard.
“This is a week he’ll really be able to showcase his abilities,” said Savage, who helped build the 2000 Super Bowl champion Ravens as the team’s director of college scouting under Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome, himself regarded as the greatest tight end in Alabama history.
“Doing the color for Alabama I’ve gotten the chance to watch every one of his games, and there’s no debating or denying the size, the speed and the athleticism.”
Savage said that while Howard’s statistics don’t jump off the page — “he never caught 70 or 80 passes in a season” — there’s good reasons for that.
“This year (Alabama) had a freshman quarterback, and for the most part they threw the ball outside the numbers,” Savage said. “And where’s the tight end? He’s inside the numbers. I really expect him to establish himself if not the tight end, a first-round tight end.”
The 6-foot-6, 251-pound Howard was third on Alabama this season with 45 catches for 595 yards (13.2 yards per catch) and three touchdowns.
Howard said he looks forward to wearing the Crimson Tide football helmet one final time, and he knows the Alabama fans will turn out in force to support him and his teammates.
“I love the Alabama fans and they love this game,” Howard said. “I came last year to support my teammates here, and I saw the way the Alabama fans got into it whenever they made a play.”
Former Tennessee and Pitt QB Nathan Peterman and Alabama TE O.J. Howard
Posted by SEC Country on Monday, January 23, 2017