NCF On The Trail: O.J. Howard

Where does No. 1 TE Luatua land? 

September, 19, 2013
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Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Marida) is starting to narrow down his choices and has three official visits lined up so far.

He’s not one to brag or really go that much in depth about his recruiting, but the fact he has Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State already scheduled shows just how high the interest is in those schools.

While there are two more officials to set up, the Crimson Tide, Fighting Irish and Buckeyes are ready to roll out the red carpet for the ESPN 300 senior -- he’s ranked 68th overall and is the No. 1 tight end at the H-position.

Here is a look at all three schools and why each makes sense for the 6-foot-3, 243-pound Luatua:


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In this week’s top 10 list, we look at which 2014 recruits have the best chance to make an early impact for Alabama. It’s a combination of UA commitments and realistic targets for the Crimson Tide. They’re ranked in order of likelihood to make the biggest impact in 2014.


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BUFORD, Ga. -- With a decision possibly right around the corner, ESPN Watch List tight end Jeb Blazevich (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) took another visit Friday to the University of Alabama, his third trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and first since the Mississippi State game last fall.


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Signing day primer: Alabama 

January, 23, 2013
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A little behind on the recruiting trail? Worry not -- TideNation has you covered. To catch you up on where the Alabama recruiting class of 2013 stands, we'll take you through the high points, including how the coaching staff has addressed certain needs and set the team up for seasons to come.

Team needs: With three of five starting offensive linemen and two of three defensive lineman starters off to the NFL draft, Alabama was forced to focus on finding help in the trenches. Nick Saban and the rest of the UA coaching staff had success filling those needs with the 2013 class, particularly along the offensive line. The Crimson Tide secured the commitments of four offensive linemen, one coming by way of a junior college in New York. Leon Brown, who was ranked in the top 20 of all junior college prospects by ESPN, could find himself competing for the starting right tackle job vacated by D.J. Fluker.

Derrick Henry
Derek Tyson/ESPN.comDerrick Henry is the only five-star commitment Alabama has and can fit at a variety of position.
Help is on the way: Outside of the lines, Alabama was once again in search of talented athletes to continue bringing potency to an offense that's been on a steady rise the past few years. Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon were difference makers in 2012 and there could be one or two who do the same this year. Derrick Henry, the No. 1 athlete in the country and Alabama's lone five-star commitment, could be the biggest wild card of the class. At 6-foot-3 and 243 pounds, he's an option at tailback, H-back and possibly linebacker. He'll begin at running back, where he set a national career rushing yards record at Yulee High in Florida.

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Hackenberg, Olsen earn UA Game starts

January, 3, 2013
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Black Team offense

Quarterback: Christian Hackenberg (Penn State)

Running back: Alvin Kamara

Receiver: Alvin Bailey (Florida), Robert Foster (Alabama), Damore'ea Stringfellow (Washington)

Tight end: O.J. Howard (Alabama)

Offensive tackle: Darius James (Texas), Denver Kirkland

Offensive guard: Grant Hill (Alabama), Joas Aguilar (Texas A&M)

Center: Hunter Bivin (Notre Dame)

Captains: Kelvin Taylor, Hunter Bivin, Robert Nkemdiche, Ben Boulware

Black Team defense

Defensive end: Robert Nkemdiche, Elijah Daniel

Defensive tackle: Greg Gilgmore (LSU), Kennedy Tulimasealii (Hawaii)

Inside linebacker: Ben Boulware (Clemson)

Outside linebacker: Alex Anzalone (Notre Dame), Matthew Thomas

Safety: Keanu Neal (Florida), Leon McQuay III

Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida), Tarean Folston (Notre Dame)

Black Team special teams

Long snapper: Tyler Kluver (Iowa)

Kicker/punter: Sean Covington (UCLA)

White Team offense

Quarterback: Kevin Olsen (Miami)

Running back: Keith Ford (Oklahoma)

Receiver: Laquon Treadwell, Ryan Green (Florida State), Jalin Marshall (Ohio State)

Tight end: Hunter Henry (Arkansas)

Offensive tackle: Derwin Gray (Maryland), Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh)

Offensive guard: Patrick Kugler (Michigan), David Dawson (Michigan)

Center: Scott Quessenberry (UCLA)

White Team defense

Defensive end: Carl Lawson (Auburn), Joey Bosa (Ohio State)

Defensive tackle: Henry Poggi (Michigan), Kelsey Griffin (South Carolina)

Inside linebacker: Reuben Foster, Yannick Ngakoue

Outside linebacker: Trey Johnson

Safety: Max Redfield, Antonio Conner

Cornerback: Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Shaq Wiggins (Georgia)

White Team special teams

Long snapper: Brendan Turelli

Kicker: Ryan Santoso (Minnesota)

Punter: Shane Tripucka

Captains: Ryan Green, Hunter Henry, Patrick Kugler, Reuben Foster

TE McNeil ready to let Tide roll away 

December, 30, 2012
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -– ESPN 150 prospect Josh McNeil (Durham, N.C./Milford Academy) admits it was a difficult situation when the tight end parted ways with Alabama. However it looks like another SEC program will be there to pick up the pieces.


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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- ESPN 150 tight end O.J. Howard (Prattville, Ala./Autauga Academy) has been committed to Alabama for over a year, and he’s as firm as ever with the decision. Still, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban wanted to make an in-home visit with Howard and his family before the in-state recruit enrolls at UA.

Last week, Saban stopped by his school to talk with the football coach and the principal before going over to Howard’s house to spend time with his family.

“It was great,” Howard said. “Coach had fun and talked with everybody. He had a blast. He came out here and said it was like back where he’s from -- West Virginia, the country -- but he said where he’s from is more country than where I’m from. He enjoyed it, and we enjoyed him.”

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TE Josh McNeil decommits from Bama 

December, 20, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It’s the end of the Tide Towers.

On Thursday, ESPN 150 tight end Josh McNeil (Durham, N.C./Milford) announced that he decommitted from Alabama, ending the possibility of he and fellow four-star tight end O.J. Howard ever playing together for the Crimson Tide.

The reason Alabama and McNeil parted ways comes from an academic issue that stems from his ninth grade year, according to McNeil’s high school coach, Antonio King.

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Weekend Rewind: Alabama 

December, 10, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- For the first time since early October, the University of Alabama had a weekend without a football game, and it gave the Crimson Tide coaching staff a chance to host a group of official visitors.

The most notable visitor was ESPN 150 athlete Kendell Beckwith (Jackson, La./East Feliciana), ranked No. 19 overall. The Louisiana native has narrowed down his list to Alabama and LSU and plans to make a decision in January at the Under Armour All-America Game. He enjoyed his official visit to UA over the weekend.

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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.”

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Weekend Rewind: Alabama 

December, 3, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama and Georgia provided the country with an instant classic in Saturday’s SEC championship game. Although the Crimson Tide pulled it out at the end, a number of top commitments were on the edge of their seats until the clock hit zero.

“It was a scare for me for a moment, but it was a really good game,” ESPN 150 tight end O.J. Howard said.

“I thought it was one of the best SEC championships that I’ve seen,” said four-star athlete Derrick Henry. “Both teams fought to the end, and I love seeing something like that. I love seeing both teams hungry for a win. I thought both teams fought really hard.”

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Despite the fact that Alabama played a lesser opponent over the weekend, UA commitment Bradley Bozeman (Roanoke, Ala./Handley) wasn’t going to miss it. The four-star offensive lineman has been to Tuscaloosa for all but one home game, and he returned on Saturday for the Crimson Tide’s win over Western Carolina.

“I thought it was great,” Bozeman said. “They got up to 42-0 at halftime. It was a great game and gave some experience to the younger guys.”

The trip also gave Bozeman the chance to catch up with fellow Alabama commitment and ESPN 150 tight end O.J. Howard. The two have grown close from spending so much time together in Tuscaloosa this fall.

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Weekend Rewind: Alabama 

November, 19, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama hosted a small contingent of visitors for the Western Carolina game on Saturday, but all of the top recruits were watching as Kansas and Oregon were knocked off, opening the door for the Crimson Tide to play in the BCS title game for the second year in a row.

Many of Alabama’s top 2013 commitments took to Twitter with their reaction when they found out the Tide were back in it.

TE O.J. Howard (@TheRealOjHoward): “Despite all my bad luck this week, end up being best bday weekend ever!! Thanks to some upsets Roll Tide!!

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ESPN 150 TE McNeil checks out Alabama 

November, 12, 2012
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Josh McNeil committed to Alabama in July. Despite a loss to Texas A&M, that decision was reaffirmed during his official visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend.

"The visit was good," the ESPN 150 tight end from Durham (N.C.) Milford said on Monday. "It was what I expected and much more. The atmosphere that Alabama has is crazy.

"It helped me make my decision even more."

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Henry tops Bama commits in ESPN 150 

November, 7, 2012
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Alabama’s newest commitment, four-star athlete Derrick Henry, just so happens to be the Crimson Tide’s top-ranked recruit in the latest ESPN 150.


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