It’s all come down to this for Orlando Edgewater wide receiver Alton ‘Pig’ Howard.
Tennessee, UCF, Wednesday, be there.
The where is not yet known, but Howard has set Wednesday as the day he will decide between his final two college options he said Sunday night, fresh off an official weekend recruiting visit with the cross-town Knights.
“It will most likely come out of Tennessee and UCF. I’m kinda still neutral with both,” Howard said Sunday. “I’m just going to weigh my options and later this week make the commitment … Wednesday.”
“I will lay everything out and figure it all out and where I decide to go to that’s who will hear from me."
He had Tennessee, after an official visit to Knoxville on Nov. 7, as his leader heading into the UCF visit, while West Virginia and UCF filled out his top three.
Cincinnati, where he also visited last month, was still in a bit of a holding pattern, but the Bearcats were apparently an afterthought, which proved likewise for West Virginia. Howard and teammate Karl Joseph were supposed to visit Morgantown next weekend (Dec. 9). Joseph remains scheduled for the trip, while Howard, the No. 3 player in the Sentinel's 2012 Central Florida Super60, is now finished with his official visits.
“It’s definitely a tough decision but at the same time, I feel happy to commit,” Howard said of his pending announcement. “It’s hard and there is definitely something unique about both of them [Tennessee and UCF]. You kinda put yourself in position to where it comes down to two … then it makes you have to think more because you have to live with your decision for four years of your life.”
Howard said his visit to UCF for the weekend was “nice … real good” and there were different things about it compared with his usual visits to the campus. He has made the trip to UCF countless times given it’s Orlando proximity and that his half brother Quincy McDuffie is a junior wide receiver for the Knights.
"It was nice in that I got to meet a lot of the other coaches," said Howard. "I got to sit down and talk with them instead of the usual 'Hi-and-bye' sort of thing.”
His chief UCF recruiting contact had been former wide receivers coach David Kelly, who resigned under pressure following recruiting violations noted in an NCAA investigative report Nov. 9. UCF has since moved former defensive backs coach Sean Beckton into the role of recovers coach. He previously coach receivers from 1996-2003.
Nearly a UCF lifer, Beckton was inducted into the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000 for his accomplishments on the field as a UCF receiver from 1987-90. He piled up career numbers of 196 receptions (third all-time at UCF) and 2,493 yards (fourth all-time) and also had a school-record streak of 42-straight games in which he caught a pass.
Beckton coached NFL players Brandon Marshall of the Miami Dolphins and Mike Sims-Walker of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and former NFL receiver Doug Gabriel, among others. Sims-Walker attended Edgewater just like Howard.
"I’m sure it wasn’t a bad decision for UCF. He has a lot of history with them," Howard said of Beckton, with whom Pig had already established a relationship prior to the recent coaching changes. "He coached Brandon Marshall and all them other guys … If I were to go to UCF, it would definitely benefit me."
Howard has all the ammunition needed for making his decision. He even had the opportunity last week to compare UCF coach George O'Leary and Tennessee Coach Derek Dooley, both of whom made in-home visits to the Howard residence.
"Both of them, they’re pretty much the same," Howard said. "Both want to utilize me within their system, both care about academics and graduating and overall I'd say they both know what it takes to win games and just how to push a player. At same time, they will give you advice and help you through a lot of different things."
Many think brother McDuffie has a lot of pull in swaying his younger sibling, but Howard says otherwise.
"He's never pressured me," Howard said. "He gives me my space and said whatever I do he'll be happy for me."
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