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Orenthal James "O. J." Howard (born November 19, 1994) is an American football tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Alabama, and was drafted by the Buccaneers in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

O. J. Howard
refer to caption
Howard at MacDill Air Force Base in 2018
No. 80 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Position:Tight end
Personal information
Born: (1994-11-19) November 19, 1994 (age 24)
Prattville, Alabama
Height:6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Weight:250 lb (113 kg)
Career information
High school:Autauga Academy
(Prattville, Alabama)
NFL Draft:2017 / Round: 1 / Pick: 19
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 6, 2019
Receiving yards:1,173
Receiving touchdowns:11
Player stats at

Early yearsEdit

Howard attended Autauga Academy in Prattville, Alabama.[1][2] As a high school junior, Howard was asked not to bring a white girl to the Autauga Academy prom because the school's board of directors objected to interracial dating.[3][4][5]

Howard was rated by and as a five-star recruit and was ranked by both as the best tight end in his class.[6][7] He committed to the University of Alabama to play college football.[8]

College careerEdit

As a true freshman at Alabama in 2013, Howard played in 13 games with five starts. He made his collegiate debut with three receptions for 68 yards in a victory over Texas A&M.[9] On October 19, against Arkansas, he scored his first collegiate touchdown.[10] In his next game, a victory over LSU, he had a 52-yard receiving touchdown.[11] He finished the year with 14 receptions for 269 yards and two touchdowns.[12][13][14] As a sophomore in 2014, he had 17 receptions for 260 yards.[15] His best performance of the season was when he had three receptions for 81 yards in a loss to Ole Miss.[16] As a junior in 2015, Howard had 38 receptions for 602 yards and 2 touchdowns.[17] He was the Offensive MVP of Alabama's victory over Clemson in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship after recording five receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns.[18][19] As a senior in 2016, he had 45 receptions for 595 yards and three touchdowns.[20] His best performance of the season came in the National Championship rematch against Clemson. In the 35–31 loss, he had four receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown.[21]

Howard was considered by some to be underutilized in the Crimson Tide offense despite back to back seasons recording the most receptions ever for a tight end under Saban at Alabama.[22][23] When asked about Howard's role in the offense after the 2016 season, Saban said, "O.J., quite honestly, should have been more involved all year long."[22]

Howard played for the South team in the 2017 Senior Bowl.[24][25] He has stated that he tries to model his play off of Jason Witten, Jimmy Graham, and Jordan Reed.[26]


O. J. Howard
Year Team Games Rec Yds Avg TDs
2013 Alabama 10 14 269 19.2 2
2014 Alabama 9 17 260 15.3 0
2015 Alabama 12 38 602 15.8 2
2016 Alabama 15 45 595 13.2 3
Total 46 114 1726 15.1 7

Professional careerEdit

Coming out of college, Howard was projected as a first round pick by the majority of NFL experts and scouts. He received an invitation to the Senior Bowl and chose to participate although he was already a first round prospect. He was able to raise his stock by having a significant week of practice for the Senior Bowl and was voted by a panel of scouts as Senior Bowl's top practice player of the week.[27] Howard finished the game with four passes for 39 receiving yards, helping the South defeat the North 16-15.[28] He attended the NFL Combine and completed all the required combine and positional drills. At Alabama's Pro Day, he chose to only run positional drills for the representatives and scouts. Howard was ranked the top tight end in the draft by Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Pro Football Focus,, NFL analyst Mike Mayock, and NFL analyst Bucky Brooks.[29][30][31]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad BP
6 ft 5 34 in
(1.97 m)
251 lb
(114 kg)
33 34 in
(0.86 m)
10 in
(0.25 m)
4.51 s 1.55 s 2.61 s 4.16 s 6.85 s 30 in
(0.76 m)
10 ft 1 in
(3.07 m)
22 reps
All value from NFL Combine[32][33]

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Howard in the first round (19th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft.[34] He was only the second Alabama tight end selected in the first round in the common draft era, after Ozzie Newsome in 1978. On May 22, 2017, Howard signed with the Buccaneers, a four-year deal worth $11 million featuring a $6.2 million signing bonus.[35]

2017 seasonEdit

Howard entered the regular season as one of the starting tight ends along with veteran Cameron Brate.[36]

Due to Hurricane Irma, Howard and the Buccaneers had to move their Week 1 game to later in the season. On September 17, 2017, in Week 2, Howard made his professional regular season debut and caught one reception for 17-yards in the Buccaneers 29–7 victory over the Chicago Bears.[37] In Week 4, against the New York Giants, he recorded a 58-yard reception for the first touchdown of his career.[38] In Week 7, against the Buffalo Bills, he had a breakout game with six receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns.[39] He was placed on injured reserve on December 20, 2017.[40] He started the first 14 games his rookie season, finishing with 26 receptions for 432 yards and six touchdowns.[41]

2018 seasonEdit

In Week 2, against the Philadelphia Eagles, Howard recorded a 75-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as part of a 96-yard performance in the victory.[42] In Week 9, against the Carolina Panthers, he recorded two receiving touchdowns in the loss.[43] On November 20, 2018, he was placed on injured reserve after suffering foot and ankle injuries in Week 11.[44] He finished the season with 34 receptions for 565 yards and five touchdowns in ten games and eight starts.[45]

NFL statisticsEdit

Season Team Games Receiving Fumbles
GP GS Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
2017 TB 14 14 26 432 16.6 58T 6 3 2
2018 TB 10 8 34 565 16.6 75T 5 0 0
Career Total 24 22 60 997 16.6 75 11 3 2


  1. ^ "UA Game tour: Alabama commit O.J. Howard". October 5, 2012. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  2. ^ "Watch List ATH Howard too good to be true". November 8, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  3. ^ Goodman, Joseph (May 31, 2016). "How the discrimination of Alabama football star O.J. Howard changed a school".
  4. ^ Bassinger, Thomas (April 28, 2017). "O.J. Howard wanted to bring his white girlfriend to prom. His school said no". Tampa Bay Times.
  5. ^ Al-Khateeb, Zac (May 31, 2016). "Alabama high school would not let Tide TE O.J. Howard take white girlfriend to prom". SEC Country.
  6. ^ "O.J. Howard".
  7. ^ "NFL, College Sports, NBA and Recruiting".
  8. ^ Gould, Izzy. "Reports: O.J. Howard commits to Alabama".
  9. ^ "Alabama at Texas A&M Box Score, September 14, 2013". College Football at Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  10. ^ "Arkansas at Alabama Box Score, October 19, 2013". College Football at Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  11. ^ "LSU at Alabama Box Score, November 9, 2013". College Football at Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  12. ^ Rogers, Ken. "Tide expects to utilize tight end O.J. Howard more often". Dothan Eagle.
  13. ^ "Bama tight end O.J. Howard turning potential into ability". Ledger-Enquirer.
  14. ^ "O.J. Howard 2013 Game Log". College Football at Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  15. ^ "O.J. Howard 2014 Game Log". College Football at Retrieved November 15, 2017.
  16. ^ "Alabama at Ole Miss Box Score, October 4, 2014". College Football at Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  17. ^ "O.J. Howard 2015 Game Log". College Football at Retrieved November 15, 2017.
  18. ^ Zenitz, Matt. "O.J. Howard, Eddie Jackson named national championship game MVPs".
  19. ^ Braziller, Zach (January 12, 2016). "No-name tight end becomes name Alabama fans will never forget". New York Post.
  20. ^ "O.J. Howard 2016 Game Log". College Football at Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  21. ^ "College Football Championship - Clemson vs Alabama Box Score, January 9, 2017". College Football at Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  22. ^ a b Stiles, Adam (January 27, 2017). "O.J. Howard is shining at the Senior Bowl and has no idea why Alabama hardly used him". SB Nation. Retrieved February 10, 2017. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  23. ^ Schad, Joe (February 4, 2017). "2017 NFL Draft: Why Miami Dolphins must consider TE O.J. Howard". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  24. ^ Emma, Chris (January 26, 2017). "Emma: Alabama TE O.J. Howard Has Star Potential In NFL". CBS Sports. Retrieved February 10, 2017. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  25. ^ Arkush, Arthur; Fishbain, Kevin (January 24, 2017). "Senior Bowl South Notebook: Alabama TE O.J. Howard as advertised in first practice". Lincoln Journal Star. Retrieved February 10, 2017. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  26. ^ Triplett, Mike (January 27, 2017). "Alabama TE O.J. Howard 'most complete player' at Senior Bowl". ESPN. Retrieved February 10, 2017. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  27. ^ Goodbread, Chase (January 28, 2017). "Scouts vote O.J. Howard Senior Bowl's top practice player". Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  28. ^ Goodbread, Chase (January 28, 2017). "What we learned from Senior Bowl: Zay Jones boosts draft stock". Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  29. ^ Burke, Chris (April 28, 2017). "2017 NFL draft rankings: Top prospects by position". Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  30. ^ Legwold, Jeff (April 22, 2017). "Ranking 2017 Draft's Top 100 Prospects". Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  31. ^ Palazzolo, Steve. "Top 32 Prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft". Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  32. ^ "NFL Events: Combine Player Profiles - O.J. Howard".
  33. ^ "O.J. Howard, DS #1 TE, Alabama". 2017. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  34. ^ Sessler, Marc (April 27, 2017). "Bucs grab tight end O.J. Howard with 19th selection".
  35. ^ "Howard signs rookie contract with Tampa Bay Buccaneers". SEC Country. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
  36. ^ "2017 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Starters, Roster, & Players". Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  37. ^ "Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - September 17th, 2017". Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  38. ^ "New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - October 1st, 2017". Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  39. ^ "Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills - October 22nd, 2017". Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  40. ^ Smith, Scott (December 20, 2017). "Standout Rookies Among Five Bucs Headed to IR". Archived from the original on December 23, 2017.
  41. ^ "O.J. Howard 2017 Game Log". Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  42. ^ Inabinett, Mark. "Check out O.J. Howard's 75-yard touchdown catch". Retrieved October 5, 2018.
  43. ^ "O.J. Howard records his second TD of the day against Carolina". 247 Sports. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  44. ^ Smith, Scott (November 20, 2018). "Bucs Lose O.J. Howard to IR, Sign DB Josh Shaw".
  45. ^ "O.J. Howard 2018 Game Log". Retrieved December 11, 2018.

External linksEdit