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Four-Star Recruit Jaxon Howard Transfers Home to Minnesota

Updated: Apr 22

Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive lineman Jah Joyner (17) and defensive back Tre'Von Jones (2)
© Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Jaxon Howard, a former four-star recruit from the 2023 recruiting cycle, announced his transfer to the Minnesota Gophers, retaining all four years of eligibility.

Who is Jaxon Howard?

Howard played high school football at Robbinsdale Cooper in Minneapolis and was the top-rated recruit in the state of Minnesota for 2023, according to On3. His father, Willie Howard, played for Stanford and was a second-round pick in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. Jaxon Howard originally committed to LSU and appeared in three games during the 2023 season, recording only three total tackles.

What is the Impact on Minnesota?

The Gophers finished last season 10th in the Big Ten in points allowed per game at 26.7. Following a season-ending 28-14 loss to Wisconsin, defensive coordinator Joe Rossi departed for the same position at Michigan State. Head coach P.J. Fleck hired Rutgers linebackers coach Corey Hetherman as the new defensive coordinator for 2024. Hetherman, with prior experience as a defensive coordinator at James Madison and Maine, brings a very aggressive style, according to a 2019 statement to the Daily-News Record by James Madison senior defensive end Ron’Dell Carter.

With 14 seniors expected to play based on the projected depth chart and the addition of talented younger players like Howard, the Gophers anticipate an improved defense. Howard should immediately benefit from Hetherman’s aggressive play calling and have plenty of opportunities to wreak havoc behind the line of scrimmage.


Scouting Jaxon Howard

At 6-foot-4 inches and 248 pounds, Howard has the build to withstand the physical demands of Big Ten offenses. It remains to be seen if he will primarily play on the edge besides obvious passing situations. While effective at using his hands against offensive linemen in pass rushing, his ability to disengage from blocks in the run game likely needs improvement.

In Howard's first season in the maroon and gold, the Gophers should leverage his unique blend of size and speed rushing the passer on third down passing situations. As Howard gains additional experience on the field and more strength from the weight room, he should become an every-down player starting in his sophomore year and going forward. The overall goal is for his college career to be successful enough to culminate with Howard being drafted into the NFL like his father.


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