Former Alabama tight end O.J. Howard may be as perplexed as much of the Tide fanbase is about his utilization within Alabama’s offense over the past two seasons.
Howard, who is participating in the Senior Bowl, told SB Nation that he has “no idea” why he wasn’t more of a receiving target with the Crimson Tide when he was asked about his usage in the offense.
“I have no idea, honestly man,” Howard said at the Senior Bowl. “It was kind of a question mark my whole career about that, but I’ve never been able to give an answer to this day.”
Howard had 83 catches for 1,197 yards and five touchdowns in 2015 and 2016 at Alabama. His only two 100+ yard games came in the National Championship matchups with Clemson, when Howard had a whopping nine catches for 314 yards and three touchdowns.
So to do the math for you, subtracting those games from Howard’s two seasons meant he had 74 catches for 883 yards and two touchdowns over the other 28 games. But it’s also worth noting that his proficiency in those two games spurs the movement that Howard was underutilized. We tend to remember how players played in the biggest games. If Howard’s two biggest games came against Chattanooga, he’s probably not being talked about with the same reverence.
Howard contributed to Alabama’s last-second loss to Clemson in more ways than the pass game too. He had a great block to seal the edge on a Bo Scarbrough touchdown run and his combination of blocking and receiving will likely make him an early pick in May’s draft. Scouts will look at Howard’s entire game film — and not just the highlights — though he’ll probably have to explain to teams in interviews why he wasn’t a top target.
[Charles Robinson: O.J. Howard turned the most heads at Senior Bowl]
And maybe, so will Nick Saban, who said last year after Howard’s 208-yard performance in Alabama’s win over Clemson that Howard “should have been more involved all year long.” For whatever reason, those sentiments didn’t carry over into 2016, though Alabama’s downfield passing attack was lesser as freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts learned the offense. We’ll see this fall how Howard’s new team will use him.
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