Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

O.J. Howard wanted to bring his white girlfriend to prom. His school said no.

One of the biggest unexpected developments of the first night of the 2017 NFL draft was tight end O.J. Howard's fall out of the top 10 to the Buccaneers at No. 19. Here are some things you should know about Howard, some of which might surprise you:

1. Howard's high school headmaster told him he couldn't bring his white girlfriend to his prom: According to an al.com report, the Autauga Academy (Prattville, Ala.) headmaster said he was following instructions from the school's board of directors. Howard's parents confronted the board, but no one admitted to the discrimination. The headmaster later apologized at an assembly, and Howard ultimately took his girlfriend to the prom.

2. His first love was baseball: Howard played for his high school team, which reached the state championship in 2012. Before he committed to Alabama, Florida recruited him to play baseball and football.

3. He's more than a pass catcher: You've probably imagined Howard dragging safeties and linebackers all over the field, but his run blocking has drawn rave reviews, and you can see why in the highlights below. His ability to block not only at the line of scrimmage but also downfield will be a welcome addition on an offense that didn't push defenses around much at all last season.

"Here's a guy that's got the speed to run down the seam and the power to block a defensive end at the line of scrimmage, and there's not many of those guys around," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said.

4. He's sure-handed: He was targeted 132 times over the past three seasons and dropped only six passes (three in 2014, one in 2015 and two in 2016).

5. Pro Football Focus compares him to Panthers tight end Greg Olsen: "Like Olsen, Howard can move around the formation and create mismatches in the passing game. Olsen has been inconsistent in the run game, and despite Howard's top-notch run-blocking grade in 2016, his success in the trenches may rely more on scheme and fit."

2016 highlights:

• Alabama vs. Kent State, Sept. 24

• Alabama vs. Texas A&M, Oct. 22

• Alabama vs. Auburn, Nov. 26

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