Jaxon Howard (pictured left) is one of the nation’s top prospects in the 2023 recruiting class and has more than 40 offers from major programs around the country to show for it.
The four-star tight end from Robbinsndale (Minn.) Cooper High School is enjoying the recruiting process and taking his time with it, though he wishes he was able to hit the road for recruiting visits to college campuses – something he and prospects everywhere haven’t been able to do since the NCAA dead period was implemented a year ago in March 2020 due to COVID-19.
“I feel as though it’s been a while since I’ve been on a campus,” Howard said to The Clemson Insider. “If you think about that I’m a sophomore currently, about to be a junior, sooner or later it will be time for me to narrow down my list of schools and find me a place to call home for a while.”
All Howard can continue to do for the time being is build relationships with various coaching staffs remotely and check out different schools through virtual tours, which he has had the chance to do with Clemson.
“Honestly, it’s just such a great place down there,” he said. “I’ve been able to get on a virtual visit, and I mean geez, man, what a great campus.”
Howard (6-4, 225) is garnering interest from Clemson’s program and has been in contact with Tigers assistant coach Lemanski Hall, who played in the NFL with Howard’s high school linebackers coach, Ed McDaniel, when they were teammates with the Minnesota Vikings from 2000-01.
“Him and my linebackers coach will get up on the phone sometimes and speak,” Howard said.
Clemson hasn’t yet begun to offer class of 2023 prospects, unlike a lot of other schools, but Howard would be thrilled to one day receive the opportunity to play for the Tigers.
“Honestly, if I got an offer from Clemson, I feel like getting interest from Clemson would be amazing,” he said. “They’re just such a high-caliber school. They were top four this past season, but usually they’re always in the top four. That’s a big powerhouse school, and it’s a big dream for someone my age, honestly, just to go somewhere where it’s nearly guaranteed to get you to the next level.”
Howard is the son of former Stanford standout Willie Howard, who played for the Cardinal from 1996-2000 and earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors in 1999, the same year he was awarded the Morris Trophy as the top defensive lineman in the conference.
While Jaxon’s father would surely love to see his son in the Stanford uniform he used to wear, he is encouraging Jaxon to choose the school that he wants to be at and that best fits him.
“He kind of made me realize that I don’t have to follow the same steps and same dreams that he did and I can make my own path,” Jaxon said of his dad, who went on to be selected in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Vikings.
Right now, Jaxon is keeping his options open as he goes through the recruiting process while evaluating his suitors and trying to learn as much about the schools he is interested in.
“It’s still pretty wide open right now, but hopefully by maybe after my junior season I’ll have stuff a little bit more figured out,” he said. “But right now, for me, it’s all about football right now. That’s all I’m worried about. That, and then also being able to get to know coaches because although I’m taking things a little bit slower than usual, I’m also picking out the small details in schools, things I like, things I dislike. You can’t go to a school and dislike a coach, or you can’t go to a school that doesn’t have your major, so I’m just kind of picking out the small details currently.”
Jaxon is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 1 prospect in Minnesota and a top-50 national prospect (No. 47 overall) in the 2023 class.
“As a tight end, I feel like I’m pretty versatile,” he said, describing his game. “This past season was really the first time I got to be able to split out a lot as a slot receiver as well and been able to get some catches out there too. But I think I’m pretty good in the run game. I like to get my hand in the dirt and get busy with the defensive ends and outside linebackers. So, I don’t think that’ll ever be a problem for me.
“But I feel like with me being able to get into the weight room this past offseason, this upcoming season’s going to be different as far as any stats or anything like that. So, that’s my only goal right now is just get better every day.”
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