The Pennsylvania native even could have entered the NFL Draft after four seasons with the Wildcats.
Instead, he is spending his extra season of eligibility at Ohio State.
“There was a lot of different options for me on the table, and I thought they were all really good options,” Howard said this week. “I didn’t think any of them were as good as this one. And this is the one that I kind of had circled in the back of my mind. It was it was really down to the last minute. I mean, in the last week before I committed here I got a Senior Bowl invite. That was probably the the thing that I was closest to doing was going to the draft.”
Most, if not all, draft-eligible players get feedback from the NFL about where they might expect to be drafted if they go pro.
The 6-foot-5, 242-pound Howard said he heard he could go as high as the third round or as low as the sixth, but there were overall concerns about his experience level despite playing 34 games at KSU.
“You can never really trust anything that you hear, but that was consensus what I was hearing, and I just felt like I had the opportunity and I felt like my talent level didn’t really match where my stock was,” he said. “And I felt like I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try and bump that up and go somewhere to compete for national championships.”
He was also attracted to Ryan Day’s offense, which has already produced three first-round draft picks and he considers more pro-style than what he did at KSU or what they are doing at USC and Miami.
Day decided to hire Bill O’Brien — late of the New England Patriots — as offensive coordinator after Howard had already made his decision to transfer to Ohio State was an added bonus.
“The things that Coach Day does in his offense and that Coach O’Brien does, I feel like really fit my type of build, my type of player,” said Howard, who threw for 5,786 yards and 48 touchdowns with 25 interceptions at KSU.
He ran for 921 yards and 19 touchdowns as well.
“Where I was coming from at K-State, it was a very run-heavy offense, especially quarterback run-heavy, which I was very happy to do and didn’t mind doing at all. I’m excited here to where I feel like it’s more of where I can be that pocket passer and also use my legs when I need to.”
According to 247Sports, Howard was in the transfer portal for more than a month.
Rumors he could be a target of Ohio State emerged shortly before the Buckeyes lost 14-3 in the Cotton Bowl to Missouri on Dec. 30, but Howard said their interest did not really intensify until after the game.
Then he made a visit to Columbus, liked what he saw and ultimately pulled the trigger on a commitment Jan. 4.
“You know, at times it felt rushed, and at times it felt like I was pressing, like people were saying, ‘We need a commitment. We need this. We need that,’” Howard said. “But throughout the whole process, I just prayed and trusted God and knew that His plan for me would be greater and that I would end up where I was meant to be. And I mean, that paid off 10-fold. I feel like I landed in the best possible place for myself, and I just couldn’t be more thankful and blessed to be here.”