D.J. Howard chooses Clemson on flight back from Lexington


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D.J. Howard sat on the plane with a million thoughts running through his mind.

The plane was taking Howard back home to Lincoln, Alabama, from a recruiting trip to the University of Kentucky, and National Signing Day was just a few days away for the running back out of Lincoln High School.

Howard had committed to Auburn before his senior season, and his commitment still seemed firm after a visit to Auburn in mid-January, but a late push by the Clemson Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats had Howard mulling all of his options as the plane took the short trip back to Alabama.

And in the end, he went where his heart and mind told him to go.



“I was on my way back from Lexington, and I was thinking about it, and I just knew that Clemson was the place for me,” Howard said. “It was the place where I felt most comfortable, and felt most wanted. I had prayed about it, and weighed the pros and cons, and in the end, I just knew that I wanted to go to Clemson.”

Howard said that it was his relationship with the coaches that was one of the biggest pros for him.

“What really persuaded was my relationship with the coaches,” he said. “That was one of my main priorities, and I had an automatic connection with Coach Cheese [Charlie Harbison]. I also wanted to get a good education and get a degree, because that is important to me and my family.

“But Coach Swinney and Coach Powell, and all of the coaches, they are all down to earth guys and like a big family. I felt invited and I felt welcome. In the long run, I knew that Clemson would be better for me than any other place.”

Howard said he is looking forward to playing running back for the Tigers, and that coaches told him they would like to use him like they did Clemson standout C.J. Spiller.

“They told me I was going to be a running back for them,” he said. “They told me they wanted to use me like they did C.J. They will get me out in the slot formation and get me in space. I like how Clemson runs out of the spread, and gets the running backs out where they can go 1-on-1 with the linebackers.”

Howard said he is not sure if he will enroll at Clemson in June or August, and plans to ask Harbison for a recommendation, but regardless of the date he is ready to get on campus and start making a name for himself as well as take part in a time-honored Clemson tradition.

“I am looking forward to playing in Death Valley and running down The Hill,” Howard said. “I was at the Virginia game, and I was like ‘Wow, that is amazing.’ That is one of the loudest stadiums I have ever been to, and I automatically fell in love with it. I also loved the fans at Clemson, because they support you win, lose or draw. They support you 100 percent no matter what.”

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