2014 running back Naesean Howard has received some buzz in the Central New York community. Howard has averaged nearly nine yards per carry in his junior year. Recently, his West Genesee squad faced Henninger. He ran for 269 yards and three touchdowns in that game, and CuseNation.com was there to see if he was worthy of the hype.
Howard is an extremely powerful runner. His legs are strong and he never quits running. His explosion through the hole on inside runs is very good, and he often drags tacklers with him. Given the talent level he's facing, you'd expect him to show athletic dominance, and he does. It often took three or more defenders to take him down.
Maybe the most impressive attribute Howard possesses is his ability to cut. He is able to be patient waiting for a hole, and then in one cut explode through it. When running in the open field, he utilized strong footwork to make guys miss.
In the hole, he is able to slip through small cracks to gain yardage. Howard's footwork is very good between the tackles. His cutting ability is even more impressive because he rarely loses speed while doing so.
Howard is a classic down-hill runner. When he gets a full head of steam, he is very difficult to tackle. Taking it a step further, he is able to make subtle cuts at full speed without slowing down, which makes him elusive in space.
At times, Howard runs a bit upright. When he lowers his center of gravity, he becomes a much better runner. On a number of occasions he could be seen running nearly straight up and down, making him easier to bring down.
While he shows elusiveness and solid footwork, Howard does not have elite breakaway speed. He appears to be a 4.6 40 type of a player, which is adequate, but not elite.
Like most young running backs, his blocking needs work. If Howard wants to be an every down back at the next level, he will have to learn how to pass block and pick up blitzes. At times, he seemed disinterested in picking up pass rushers.
Howard has the makings of a solid division one back with the potential to be an every down starter. With work on his running style (upright), pass blocking, and speed, he could be an affective runner. Howard would likely benefit from a redshirt year to continue to develop, and could be a solid starter or very good backup. Given his running style, he may need to bulk up a bit as well.