Those who paid close attention to Alabama’s semifinal win over Michigan State on Dec. 31 might have noticed some foreshadowing.
NFL scouts were in love with tight end O.J. Howards’ athleticism and speed, but ‘Bama had mostly used him as a blocker. Thirty catches were all he had to his name entering the College Football Playoff. No touchdowns.
Then, he had a 41-yard catch-and-run against the Spartans as part of a 59-yard performance.
Flash forward to Monday’s national championship win over Clemson, and Howard was unexpectedly putting up one of the school’s best receiving games of all time.
“It felt like a dream,” Howard said afterward. “When I got to the sideline I told everyone to wake me up because I didn’t think it was real.”
The junior collected offensive MVP honors after racking up 208 yards — fifth-best in school history — and two touchdowns on just five catches. The performance was enough to make coach Nick Saban rethink his offensive approach.
“O.J. (Howard), quite honestly, should have been more involved all year long,” he told Ben Jones. “I would say it’s bad coaching on my part.”
Howard will likely be a trendy first- or second-round choice in mock drafts, but he might decide to stick around after playing the game of his life.
“It makes me think about coming back,” he told Aaron Suttles, “and making plays for coach.”