- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
Editor's note: This is a series introducing Alabama's 2013 recruiting class that will run through signing day.
If there’s one recruit who’s set the standard for this 2013 Alabama class, it’s ESPN 150 tight end O.J. Howard. Ranked No. 42 overall, Howard committed to the Crimson Tide two summers ago. Since then, he’s competed and excelled at nearly every camp and 7-on-7 tournament he’s been to. At Alabama, he’s scheduled to enroll early and will start at H-back as a freshman.
Q: What made you commit to Alabama?
A: I chose Alabama because it was kind of like home to me. When I first started going to visit, I started getting very comfortable with everybody around there. It just felt like home, so felt it was the right time to commit because I was comfortable there, and it was the right place for me.
Q: What’s life been like since your commitment?
A: It’s been really steady, but it’s been good and positive. A lot of people say great things about you once you make a commitment to the University of Alabama, so it’s been pretty fun. Things change of course. Once I committed, everybody expected bigger and better things out of me, but it’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed it.
Q: When did you first meet Coach Saban? What was that like?
A: It was at a football camp. I shook his hand. We got to take pictures or whatever. The first time we ever had a conversation was the summer after my sophomore year when I got offered. I went in there and talked to him with my parents. It was pretty cool.
Q: What’s your favorite Alabama memory to this point?
A: It was probably taking my official not too long ago. It was probably the best [visit] ever. All the guys who came in with me, we all had fun. We played video games. We had a good time at Coach Saban’s house. Everybody’s parents became friends, and they became very comfortable around each other. We just all bonded together and had a lot of fun, so that’s probably my best memory ever.
Q: What’s your goal when you get to Alabama?
A: My goal is go in there and take advantage of this opportunity to come in early. Don’t just look at it as an opportunity to get out of high school fast or get away from high school, but take advantage of getting a head start on the guys coming in your class later on. One of my biggest goals is to get in the weight room and get faster, bigger and stronger and also become a great blocker at the tight end position.
Q: Do you have a favorite play or memory from high school?
My favorite memory would be going to The Opening. That moment where I was out there, kind of nervous the first day -- we had to do the 40-yard dash -- and my first 40, I took a deep breath and ran it. I looked back, and it was a 4.49. That was pretty impressive. It was all the hard work that paid off. I was practicing for the 40 like all summer long -- new techniques, trying to find ways to take down time. It paid off.
Favorite food: Steak
Dream car: Bugatti
Number at Alabama: 88
“Julio Jones wore No. 8, and he came out a great guy, great person and great athlete, so I thought I should wear No. 88 to have the goal that I want to do twice the things that Julio Jones did. I want to double his catches that he had at Alabama, double the yards and things like that.”
Favorite NFL player: TE Jimmy Graham
Dream vacation: Atlantis (Bahamas)
Hobby: Playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and NCAA Football ’13
Music before a game: 2 Chainz and Yo Gotti