Inside the Class of '07: Ahmard Howard

The 21st in a daily series of interviews & photo essays on the Class of '07: Brenham tight end Ahmard Howard.

Ahmard Howard
Tight End
Brenham HS
6-4/220/4.65
National Rank at TE: 13
Overall State Rank: 42
Star Rating: « « « «

An Inside Texas conversation with Brenham head coach Glenn West on Ahmard Howard:

IT: What are Ahmard’s strengths as a football player that made him such a desirable prospect for Texas?

West: Ahmard is the kind of kid because of his frame, because of his body size, and his speed with his body size -- I mean, the kid runs a 4.6 40 and he's 6-5 -- he caught everybody's eye. As a sophomore, we would be in off-season and coaches would be coming to watch our passing stuff and looking at players, and nearly everyone that came through would ask, 'Who is that big tight end?' Well, he's a sophomore. 'Wow, he's going to be something once he grows to his size, grows into his height.' So as a junior, he was a very, very good blocking tight end, and he caught a lot of touchdown passes. He didn't catch many passes, but his touchdown ratio was high because he was really, really fast. And they would try to put a linebacker on the tight end, and they just couldn't do it. Great blocker. Kind of kid that didn't care that he didn't catch but 11 balls. He was fine with that. There have been people that say that he could eventually be a quick tackle in the NFL if he gains more weight, because he's so big and he has a chance to grow so much, his feet are so good. But he's going to be a tight end. Coach Giles first saw him as a junior during the playoff run -- we lost during the semifinals -- and he was up watching one day and I think what caught his eye was he watched him in a defensive drill, he was a defensive end, and he said, 'Man, this kid can do several things.' Got him in, had a great highlight tape of him blocking and so Texas ended up committing him. He was a great defensive player for us this year. Has a lot of speed, is big, comes off the edge very well. Even though he's a tight end, he could easily move once he's at Texas. I think he could move to three different positions. He could play tight end, he could play offensive tackle eventually -- he'd have to gain a lot of weight, but he could -- and he could play defensive end.

IT: We've always listed him as a tight end...

West: And that's true...

IT: Did the Texas coaches indicate what position they are looking at him as?

West: I think they're going to start with him at tight end and see how that goes. Gosh, you've gotta love a kid that is that tall and that fast as a tight end and he blocks well, so I foresee that being where he goes but he has a really big upside. I don't think he's near reached his potential. He's the kind of kid that all along you kept saying, 'If he grows to that body, if he grows to that body.' I think we're still saying that and I think Texas would tell you that, that he is somebody that is going to be a whole lot better football player his junior and senior year than he is going in, and he's a good player right now, but I'm just saying, he could be a monster. He could really be something. He has been involved in several sports so he has not been involved in extensive weight training although he's a lot stronger than Brandon (Collins) is. He's somewhere around the 300-pound mark right now as a bench but he is so massive that he could do so much more, and I think he will.

IT: How tall is he?

West: He's right at 6-5.

IT: Does he have a frame to add a lot of weight?

West: Yeah. He's got a huge frame. He has got a huge upside because he could get so much bigger and he's got great speed, and you can't coach that. He's got that.

IT: Football speed, or does he participate in track as well?

West: Yes. He was a triple jumper! He's very athletic. That's my point. He's extremely athletic. The difference between him and Brandon, Brandon knew football so well; Ahmard is learning about football. Ahmard is closer to where Limas was when he left our school as far as really understanding the game. I don't know how much football Ahmard watched when he was young. Things don't come as natural to him as they do to Brandon, but once he learns what to do he's pretty amazing.

IT: Was Ahmard involved in other sports growing up?

West: Basketball and track. His brother was a triple jumper for the University of Arkansas and finished fourth in the Olympic Trials so he was raised in an athletic family. He always played football but he was that tall, gangly, really skinny kid that you kept saying, 'If he ever grows into those feet and that frame' and that's kind of what he's done. He does things from time-to-time that you just go, 'Unbelievable' and then at other times you go, 'He oughtta know that.' But, wow, he could have gone just about everywhere that runs a tight end offense in the country. Could have. He's 6-5, doesn't mind blocking -- in fact likes to block -- and runs like he can and has ball skills, too.

IT: What did the Texas coaches tell you that they like about Ahmard?

West: All of those things. When they called last year after seeing his film, they said, 'Wow. He blocks really good and he's explosive.' He's got several long receptions. We would run a route, typically off a bootleg pass, that he would be dragging and we called it a climb route. About halfway across the drag he would climb deep which if you are fast that can really startle a defensive back who thinks you're going to come across on the drag and he's about ready to jump the drag and all of a sudden you go behind him really deep. He scored four times last year on a climb route just out-running people that weren't ready for it. I think what they liked most about him is that he's a really, really good kid. Coach (Greg) Davis one time told me about Limas, which is holding true when he got him, 'He's a program kid.' I asked, 'What do you mean by a program kid.' He said, 'He's a kid that will graduate from the University of Texas, who will stay the whole time and will end up being a great football player for us.' I think he would say Ahmard Howard fits the same mold. He's a program kid. He's never going to cause them any trouble, he's going to make his grades, he's going to do what he is told, and before he gets out of there he'll be a very, very good football player.

IT: A lot of times tight ends are looked at as a blocking tight end or a receiving tight end...

West: I think he'd be, right off the bat, more of the receiving tight end from the standpoint that he is so fast and he's such a big target, but I have to say he's not afraid to block. Matter of fact, he's a very good blocker. A lot of that will depend on how much weight he gains. I see him a lot like the (Jermichael) Finley kid they have now as far as his frame looks. We here in 4A football play kids on both sides of the ball so Texas has film of him playing defense. In the all-star game they were in a spread offensive formation, he played defensive end. They can take a lot from that to say he can be a good defensive player. I had several people tell me last spring that he could be in the NFL as a quick tackle, that left tackle that has to take on that speed rusher, because he is so gifted. The thing about Ahmard, he really doesn't care. He's just like, 'Right now I'm a tight end, but whatever I need to be, I'll do.' I believe that.

IT: What are the areas of Ahmard’s game that he needs to improve upon to be successful in college?

West: Strength will be one thing, filling out his body, much like Brandon. And I think his knowledge of the game is going to have to increase a lot only because it doesn't come naturally for him, so I think he's going to have to study a lot and learn and I foresee him being a redshirt myself, if at all possible, because he needs that year of growth. Ahmard is going to be a much better player five years from now than a year from now. That's how I see him, a lot of upside who again could have gone to anybody in the country who runs a tight end offense. Was offered by virtually everybody that has a tight end in their offense.

IT: How much have you seen him grow in terms of football knowledge from the time you got him?

West: He's tons better.

IT: So he's proven capable of growing in that area?

West: No question. No question. He's probably been one of the most improved players that we have had but still can do so much more. He definitely would not be one that would come to the sidelines and tell me the things that Brandon would tell me. Different kind of kid. Wired differently. More of a tunnel vision type person as far as, 'This is what I'm supposed to do? OK.' Brandon is not that way at all. He's big-eyed. No question he's a great offer. He's a program guy. I think we're going to see Ahmard Howard become a great player at the University of Texas. It will be fun to see what he grows into be.

IT: What is Ahmard working on in the off-season?

West: Actually, he had hurt his foot next to the last game of the season, and it took him a long time -- we played so late that our basketball players, they were already playing district play before our (football) kids even went to the gym, so he was behind at that point and he ended up not going through it. What's he doing right now, he's going to be in track. What he's doing right now, believe it or not, he's going through our off-season with our younger kids, which is a testament to where he wants to be. He knows that he needs to be in the best physical condition he can be in when he gets into the next level.

IT: What did Ahmard mean to your football program?

West: I think Ahmard brought a couple of things. Ahmard brought attention to our program. Brandon probably wouldn't have been discovered by the University of Texas if not for Ahmard Howard. Because they were here to see him. Also, versatility. He was an all-district defensive end this year. He brought depth to our football team because of the many things he could do. Also, we were never afraid to run behind him. It was a great side of the football to run behind -- run behind your tight end -- because he was going to get his block, and usually he was going to get it really well. He has really, really good hips. He's got good, uncoiling hips and butt area. Strong hamstrings.

IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies Ahmard's ability as a football player?

West: I don't know if I have just one moment that was the difference. Probably a couple of times as a junior him being able to break a game wide open by being able to go deep. Like I said, Ahmard had his biggest games against very, very tough competition where he would all of a sudden catch a 56-yard touchdown pass. Klein Oak a year ago, he broke their back. He broke Waller's back as a junior hitting a deep pass when the game was tight. Those are his defining moments.

Also see: Audio: Ahmard Howard

TE Ahmard Howard on His Trip to Austin

ScoutTV: Horns TE commit

Horns Land Recently-Offered TE Howard

UT Signing Day Bio: Prep All-American and all-district performer at tight end and defensive end … versatile three-sport letterman that played in the 2007 East Meets West All- American game as a defensive end … was a member of ESPN's top 150 national prospects … started at tight end as a sophomore, junior and senior in addition to starting at defensive end as a senior … led his team to a 25-3 record over his final two seasons and two District Championships … posted 17 receptions for 325 yards and seven TDs at tight end over his final two seasons … averaged a TD every 2.4 receptions … earned first-team all-district 18-4A at defensive end and second- team all-district 18-4A at tight end as a senior … helped his team to an 11-2 record and a berth in the regional semifinals … finished the season ranked 17th in the Texas Football Top 25 … posted 46 tackles, three sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 42 pressures, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery … caught 13 passes for 223 yards and four TDs … tabbed first-team all-district 18-4A as a junior … helped the Cubs reach the 4A Division II state semifinals and a 14-1 record … caught four passes for 102 yards and three TDs … also was a three-year letterwinner in basketball and lettered in track and field as a sophomore … has devoted time to the Young Life program … a member of his church's youth group … enjoys listening to music and playing video games … brother, Antoine, was an indoor All-American in the triple jump at Arkansas in 1997 … father, Andre, played running back at Fort Glenn Junior College … born 1/31/89 in Houston.

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All photos: Will Gallagher/Inside Texas