February 2, 2012

Best of 2013 : O.J. Howard

TideSports.com traveled across the state of Alabama to locate the top prospects in the class of 2013 and find out what makes them so special. Just outside Prattville, Autuaga Academy has potentially the best player to ever come through the AISA ranks in O.J. Howard, and his combination of size and athleticism puts him on our list.

Name: O.J. Howard
Position: Tight end
High School: Autauga Academy
Height: 6-foot-5 | Weight:221 pounds

Interested schools: Committed to Alabama

Why he's a top prospect: Simply put, Howard is a physical freak. He's 6-foot-5, 221 pounds and still growing. He's fast, strong and when you shake his hand, you realize why he rarely drops a football. At the Under Armour All-America Underclassmen Combine, he was one of the top performers in a group that included some of the best players in the country. He nearly played every position on the field last year for Autauga Academy. At Alabama, he projects as either a tight end or outside linebacker, but he has the skills to be tremendous at either spot.

What he said: "Tight end is one of the main spots I'm looking forward to playing because I think it fits me, also maybe one day at the next level, after college in the NFL. (Alabama) tries to get you ready for the next level, so I think tight end is one of the best positions for me right now."

"I was an Auburn fan, but Alabama is different when it comes to recruiting. You have to go where your heart wants you to go. You can't always go by what you grew up as a fan of.

"It's going to be tough coming in now knowing (the 2012) guys are so good. It makes you want to work harder because you have all that talent around you. Over the next couple of years, we're going to make a run for the championship every year."

Coach's take: "He's a guy that's highly unselfish, too. He has great character. We played in a big game this year to win the region title, and I think he touched the ball twice in that game, and that was because they wanted to triple cover him. We just used him as a decoy. He never complained, and we got a big win."

"The thing that I remember the most about him is that you very seldom ever see him down. That's big in our weight room. That's big on our team. That's big for our school. He's always got a smile on his face."
Autauga Academy head coach Michael Sims

Reach Greg Ostendorf at [email protected]

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