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Sunday, December 9, 2012
O.J. Howard talks official visit to Bama

By Greg Ostendorf

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- ESPN 150 tight end O.J. Howard (Prattville, Ala./Autauga Academy) isn’t far from the University of Alabama. Since he committed more than a year ago, he has made plenty of trips to Tuscaloosa. On the weekend, he took his first and only official visit to UA.

“It went well,” Howard said. “You only take one official, and it went well. I really enjoyed it. Overall, it was a very productive weekend.

“We went to eat at Coach’s house a couple times. Then we got to go ride four-wheelers and stuff like that. We got to go out with some of the players. We did an academic tour, toured the campus, the facilities, the football facilities, the locker room, the stadium. It was just stuff that makes you feel like you’re at home. It was fun.”

It was the first big visitor weekend for Alabama since defeating Georgia in the SEC title game. In addition to Howard, the Tide hosted fellow commitments Cooper Bateman, Leon Brown, Grant Hill and Parker McLeod as well as a few notable undeclared prospects -- Kendell Beckwith, Brandon Hill and Eldridge Massington.

Howard said the thing that stood out the most from his visit was how well everybody got along with each other. He said he and Beckwith, an ESPN 150 recruit out of Louisiana, spent the most time together.

“I hung out with him the most out of everybody,” Howard said. “We were always together. He was telling me it’s between Alabama and LSU. I know he enjoyed it down here, so that’s a good sign.”

Beckwith plans to announce his decision at the Under Armour All-America Game.

With the regular season done for Alabama, the visit gave Howard a chance to spend more time than normal with the coaching staff. They talked about enrolling early, the academic side of that and how they plan to use the 6-foot-6, 220-pound tight end when he gets to UA.

“Coach [Doug] Nussmeier was telling me when I first get there, a lot of guys are going to be bigger, faster and stronger than I am, so they’re going to put me at the H-back position. That’s where they really want me to play, off the ball a lot, motioning in the backfield, blocking some times, going out on some slasher routes, underneath routes, things like that.”

The plan is for Howard to start out at H-back, where they can get him on the field as a freshman, and eventually have him work his way up to playing tight end.

It’s now less than a month before Howard and the other early enrollees arrive at Alabama and get started. If all goes to plan, they will be on campus Jan. 8, the same day the team comes back from the BCS championship game in Miami.

“I’ll be there the same day the team gets back,” Howard said. “After a win, it’s going to be great. I’m moving in. Those guys are coming back from Miami. It’s going to be a great time. I’m just ready to get down there.”

Howard plans to return to Tuscaloosa this month to attend some of the bowl practices.