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From Facebook message to first-round pick: Tytus Howard’s long road to Houston

From Facebook message to first-round pick: Tytus Howard’s long road to Houston

His mom, Teresa Rivers, reached out to Alabama State head coach Reggie Barlow, asking him to take a look at her son, a high school quarterback. Rivers thought her son deserved a shot at playing at the next level, and she wanted him to do it somewhere close. She had just moved to Montgomery, Alabama, and had heard of Alabama State. So she sent a message to Barlow, telling him about Howard, and sent along a few highlight tapes.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“I told him if he gave him an opportunity to come in and prove himself, I know he would earn a scholarship,” Rivers said last week, after Howard was drafted by the Houston Texans with the No. 23 pick in the 2019 NFL draft. “And it didn’t take long for Coach Barlow to respond. And he actually just did as he said. He said, ‘I’m going to get him in.’”

Barlow showed his staff the tape. Though the coaches didn’t think Howard was a college quarterback, they saw promise in the athleticism and “raw ability” of the 6-foot-3, 215-pound high school senior.2

Howard went to Alabama State as a walk-on intent on proving himself. After his first semester, Barlow left, and new head coach Brian Jenkins told Howard he was giving him a chance to earn a scholarship. By the end of his freshman year — which he spent as a tight end, though he never played a snap at the position — he was awarded a full ride.

“I actually cried,” Howard said. “I was the first male in my family to go to college and to be on scholarship. It was just a burden I could take off of my family. [We could] stop having to take out loans.”
With that scholarship came the idea of a position change. The ASU coaching staff first tried Howard on the scout team to see if he had the right footwork to make the change to offensive tackle.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Once they figured out Howard had the tools to play tackle, they focused on making him look like a tackle.

Howard had always been small — he was nicknamed “Weenie” by his family because, as a premature baby, “he was the smallest thing in the house” — so when he and the coaching staff decided his new home was on the offensive line, he had some work to do before he fit there.

They had seen this work before. One of Howard’s teammates, tackle Jylan Ware, also bulked up to play tackle. Ware was drafted by the Raiders in the seventh round in 2016.

“We saw a lot of what Jylan did do and what he didn’t do, so I was able to formulate a better plan for Tytus, just having a guy go through the process two years prior,” said Medgar Harrison, Alabama State director of strength and conditioning.