'21 TN DB Elijah Howard (Tennessee commit 6/25/19)

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Elijah Howard committed to the University of Tennessee back in June. However, the recruitment process for the 2021 prospect is far from over. The Knoxville, Tenn. native and Baylor High School standout acknowledged he’ll continue to take visits over the next calendar year while bulking up for the next level. Any win for Tennessee is good for recruiting right now – especially after heart wrenching losses to Georgia State and BYU earlier in the season. Still, it seems as if Howard is firm in his commitment.
“When I was at the game Saturday, I was just looking around. Even though the team hasn’t been doing too good this season, it just shows how strong the fan base is,” Howard said of Saturday. “It was great to see so many people there still rooting those guys on. It was great and it’ll be a dream come true playing there.
Howard had a good vantage point – sitting in row 1 of the South endzone with the rest of the recruits during the Mississippi State contest. “Yeah, it was a good win. We needed that momentum,” Howard said. “The guys came out and played great and the defense played a dominant game. I liked what I saw.” The athlete, who previously played for Webb School of Knoxville before transferring to Baylor High School prior to the 2019 campaign, is growing. Howard is up to 180 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame. He’s dynamic with the football in his hands and would have options here in Knoxville. “I’m still coming in as an athlete. I’ve been talking to coach [Jim] Chaney about the possibility of playing slot receiver,” Howard said. “I’ve also been discussing a little bit of running back as I’m hoping to put on about 15 more pounds. “We’ll just have to see where I play when I get up there.” Howard is willing to play wherever the Tennessee coaching staff needs him.
The defensive backfield is another area the athlete could help add depth upon arrival. Howard is primarily lining up at running back this season on offense but noted his high school coaches put him in at corner back against the opposing team’s best receivers in passing situations. “I like how they [the Vols] gives their guys the chance to play one-on-one and showcase their ability. They have a lot of people coming down and playing press coverage and I think I’d do well with that,” Howard said. “If you do what you need to do in practice, you’ll get a chance to play. I like how they aren’t afraid to play freshmen, either.” Two of Tennessee’s prized recruits in the Class of 2018 started nearly every game at the corner back position last season as freshmen. Both Bryce Thompson and Alontae Taylor have improved as defensive players since the time – but both were almost exclusively used as offensive weapons in high school. Howard, like Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt, believes having the ball in your hands at the prep level will only help you as a defender at the next level. “Offensive players have great agility. When you get an interception on defense, you know what to do. You can go ahead and take it to the house.”
The local product has been on Tennessee’s radar for quite some time. UT was the first program to offer Howard as former head coach Butch Jones first expressed interest. When Pruitt and the new regime arrived, they made Howard a priority for the class. “I like the route they are going here in the second year. Mississippi State was a really big win that they needed,” Howard said of the program. “I’m just very excited to get there in the next two years.” Howard is currently rated as a three-star prospect with defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley as his primary recruiter for Tennessee. UT has one of the four offers on the table early on – along with Mississippi State, Tulane and Virginia Tech.
The prospect describes himself as a three-down back who has great stop and go ability and cutability. Howard has worked hard to improve his pass-catching ability out of the backfield. He is also excited for the opportunities to play corner back in big-time situations. Howard has also begun building relationships with members of the current team. The Chattanooga area standout has worked out with Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor and quarterback Brian Maurer in the offseason. With two games already under his belt this season, Howard looks forward to being back on Rocky Top many times over the next year before signing. Baylor High School is currently 6-1 on the season. Howard and the rest of the Red Raiders will welcome Knoxville Catholic this Friday for a region matchup.
-VQ
 

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