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Alabama tight end O.J. Howard anchors receiving corps in victory over Kent State

Alabama tight end O.J. Howard (No. 88) on field goal team during last week's game vs. Kent State: Roderick Mason - Touchdown Alabama Magazine

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.| Playing second fiddle to Calvin Ridley and ArDarius Stewart is not easy, but it’s the personal growth of Alabama tight end O.J. Howard that’s allowed him to be special.

Howard did not see the ball much against Western Kentucky and Ole Miss, but the 6-foot-6, 251-pound senior made his presence felt this week. He collected three passes for a team-high 60 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown reception from Blake Barnett in the second quarter. Howard’s touchdown was part of a 41-point onslaught in the first half, however, his blocking was even more impressive. He set the edge for 285 rushing yards on 46 carries, including a 20-yard touchdown run from Jalen Hurts in the first quarter.

Howard got the key block to spring him.

While he was happy to play a lot of guys against Kent State, head coach Nick Saban more thrilled about how the team was able to feature Howard more on offense.

“We were able to get O.J. Howard a little more involved today and he made a couple of explosive plays,” Saban said on Saturday. “That’s what we need to continue to do.”

As for Howard, he wanted to see Alabama establish consistency.

“We came out, and we wanted to get it going early,” he said. “We needed good tempo going into it early. Everyone did their assignment and came out here to dominate.”

He totaled just two catches against Ole Miss, but blocked for a combined 290 rushing yards and a touchdown between Jalen Hurts and sophomore Damien Harris. Howard witnessed the Crimson Tide erase a 21-point deficit, to defeat the Rebels 48-43 two week ago in Oxford, Miss.

When asked about how much the Ole Miss game helped against Kent State, Howard said the team knew that it needed a lot of determination and grit in the locker room for Saturday’s contest.

“Everybody put it all together today and we got it going,” he said.

Howard stands at 10 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown after four games. Alabama looks to target him more within its offense, especially with the meat of its Southeastern Conference schedule coming up.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama MagazineYou can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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