The Chicago Bears’ newest running back Jordan Howard has encountered many obstacles. The man who played a tremendous role in his life, his father Reginald Howard, passed away when Jordan was young. Mr. Howard never saw his son play a game of college football, yet the impact he had on his son’s life has shaped the man Howard is today.
“Everybody tells me I act just like him and look like him,” Howard said. “He was a pretty great guy. He wouldn’t really say much if he didn’t know you. I’m kind of the same way. But he was really genuine, down to earth.”
Jordan likes to let his game do the talking, just like his father who played at Tuskegee University. At an early age it was clear there was something special about the young man who earned the nickname “the bulldozer,” for his running style.
When Jordan played little league, Reginald Howard, rarely missed a game. “His father was his greatest supporter, before anybody else realized his athletic ability,” said Howard’s mother, Flora Williams.
Jordan would lose his father when he was just 12 years old, and three years later go on to legally change his name to Jordan Reginald Howard in honor of his father’s memory.
When Howard reached high school, he would face another obstacle. A hip injury forced him out of competition during the summer between his junior and senior seasons. Without the exposure to camps during the summer, Howard received only one scholarship offer from his hometown school, University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB). He would accept the offer.
After a freshman season where he hardly saw the field, the bulldozer exploded his sophomore year, breaking the UAB single season rushing record in the process. It appeared as if Howard would be on his way to another outstanding season with UAB as a junior. Unfortunately for Howard and the rest of the UAB Blazers, the football team disbanded, leaving Howard without a team.
“I already had a big chip on my shoulder because UAB was my only offer coming out of high school,” Howard said. “It just made my chip even bigger. But I definitely wanted to play well for UAB and put on for UAB because their program shut down. They took it from us like it was nothing.”
Luckily for Howard and the Indiana Football team, he would settle in Bloomington, Indiana to continue his football career as a Hoosier. In his only season with the Hoosiers, Howard once again dominated at the collegiate level, earning First Team All-Big Ten Honors, and more importantly the attention of NFL Scouts.
Following his breakout season with the Hoosiers, Howard decided to forgo his final year of eligibility in order to turn pro. With his dad watching over him the entire way, Howard began the grueling preparation for the NFL Combine and Pro Day workouts.
After all of the hardships and obstacles Howard faced, the dream that had been set into motion since his little league days had finally come true. With the 11th pick in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Jordan Howard was taken by the Chicago Bears.
Now settling in with his new team at OTAs this past week, Howard will look to surpass Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford to become the Chicago Bear’s lead running back.
When Jordan was still a boy, his father wrote a letter to him which read, “In my book, you’re the greatest of all time.” Those words will surely be guiding and inspiring Jordan throughout his journey.
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