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Senior Bowl’s Jim Nagy speaks highly of Will Howard

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Senior Bowl executive director speaks highly of quarterback Will Howard

USC and Miami were in the running initially, but ultimately former Kansas State quarterback Will Howard found himself in the transfer portal deciding between Ohio State and the NFL.

He seriously considered the NFL, and even received an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl. That said, his invitation came later than most, and, actually, it came the day he made his visit to Ohio State.

In an interview with On3’s Andy Staples this week, Jim Nagy, the executive director of the Senior Bowl, recounted the timeline of his communication with Howard last year.

“I like Will a lot,” Nagy said before launching into his story. “I was on [Kansas State’s] campus there in Manhattan last November giving an invite out to his best buddy Ben Sinnott, [a tight end] who ended up going in the early second round to the Commanders. So I got a chance to talk to Will that day.

“It was really a weird dynamic how it worked out for Will, unfortunately. We ended up with Michael Penix [Jr.] in the Senior Bowl and Bo Nix in the Senior Bowl, but we were waiting on Jayden Daniels at that time to see what Jayden was going to do. It was kind of dragging along. We didn’t get an answer from Jayden’s camp for a long time.”

Nagy continued: “So when I did circle back to Will Howard to invite him, this literally happened — I called Will one morning in late December, and I said, ‘Will, we’ve got a spot, man.’ He really wanted to play in the game. [But] he’s like, ‘Jim, I’m literally on a plane to Columbus, Ohio, today.’ So at that point, I’m like, ‘I’m not going to call Ryan Day and try to make an issue out of this thing.’”

Howard went through with his visit to Ohio State, loved what he saw from the Buckeyes and ended up committing to them as a graduate transfer on Jan. 4, just six days after Day’s squad suffered an embarrassing, 14-3 defeat to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl.

By that point, 2023 Ohio State starting quarterback Kyle McCord was already two-and-a-half weeks into his transition to Syracuse. Plus, McCord’s backup, Devin Brown, had just went down with his second ankle sprain of an injury-riddled season. That setback took place in Ohio State’s New Year’s Six showdown, a game in which Brown made his first, albeit short-lived, start of his career.

The Buckeyes wanted Howard, who had 27 starts under his belt, not to mention a Big 12 title in 2022 and 33 total touchdowns in 2023. Nagy and the Senior Bowl wanted Howard, too.

“We like Will a lot,” Nagy said in the interview. “We’ve watched him for a couple of years. I think he’s got a good arm. I like the accuracy. He does a lot of NFL transferrable things from that Kansas State tape — watching him operate from under center and the play-action game — and we’ve seen a lot of quarterbacks put up big numbers for the Buckeyes.

“I think Will’s going to do that.”

Staples noted how he’s excited to see Howard’s mobility used in an offense now run by Chip Kelly, who left his head coaching post at UCLA this offseason to become the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach and play-caller.

“That’s a good point,” Nagy said to Staples. “I mean, I mentioned the Ohio State offense — it’s going to be different with Chip there. But, yeah, and that’s the other part I didn’t say about Will Howard. He’s athletic, man. The young guy (Avery Johnson) they had behind him there at Kansas State is super athletic, and he’s a smaller guy. But for his size, Will’s a really good athlete with good mobility.

Nagy added, soon after: “I think Ohio State’s going to be a really good football team.”

Howard, of course, can still play in the Senior Bowl after the 2024 season if he receives an invite again. When the pre-draft all-star game rolls around, Howard might have turned this year’s Day 3 draft grade into much higher prospects.

Either way, Nagy will be watching.

A-Deck: Five key storylines to watch during third Ohio State official visit weekend

Ohio State’s third official visit weekend of June is on tap, and Lettermen Row is highlighting five key storylines to watch.

That includes official visits from a couple highly-touted offensive linemen: four-star Mobile (Ala) Vigor interior offensive lineman Micah DeBose and five-star Roswell (Ga) Fellowship Christian offensive tackle Josh Petty.

Ohio State offensive line coach Justin Frye just had a collection of talent from the 2026 class on campus for the fourth recruiting camp of the summer Thursday. This weekend, he’ll have some head-turning targets from the 2025 cycle taking OVs.

For more on that development, plus the other key storylines, head on over here.

RELATED

Breaking down Buckeyes projected tight end depth chart

It’s that time of the week: Lettermen Row is breaking down another projected depth chart. This time, it’s for the Buckeyes’ tight ends.

Ohio State said goodbye to eventual fourth-round NFL Draft pick Cade Stover earlier this offseason. Stover is the reigning Big Ten Tight End of the Year and finished his Buckeyes career with back-to-back 30-plus-reception seasons.

Who will be the next Ohio State TE1? And, whoever it is, who might join them in 12-personnel packages as TE2?

We explored here.

Counting Down

Buckeyes vs. Akron: 78 days
Buckeyes vs. Michigan: 169 days

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Anna Harden

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