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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Eli Howard, DE, Texas Tech University

Eli Howard Texas Tech NFL Draft
Eli Howard is a team leader and versatile member of Texas Tech’s defensive front. He recently sat down with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: Eli Howard
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 277 lbs
  • Position: DL
  • College: Texas Tech University
  • Instagram: _53li_

Talk about your experience as a student. What is your major/minor? Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
Out of high school, I got a scholarship to go to North Texas. Although, with a coaching change and family health issues happening, I felt it best to transfer a bit closer to home and walk on to Texas Tech. I obtained my Bachelors in 2018 in Business Management, and also received my Masters in May of 2020 in Personal Financial Planning. Football and Academics took up a lot of my time, so I wasn’t able to participate in much else. Although, I did attend FCA when I had time.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
They would say that I’m a great leader and teammate. I was twice voted team captain by my teammates. I’m also the kind of player that brings a lot of energy and comes to work every day. I handle my business on and off the field as well as make the people around me better.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
At the next level, I see myself as a true 5 tech. I’ve spoken to teams about possibly playing a 3-tech or OLB. Versatility is a huge advantage for me. My personal goal is to come into a team and have significant playing time whether that be on defense or special teams. I also plan on being a leader in the weight room and on the field. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. Most people see me as a pass rusher; although, I was asked to drop back into coverage at times with Coach Kingsbury’s staff. The NFL is becoming more like the Big 12 and airing it out a lot. So, I see my experience as a huge advantage to any team.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
I’ve played a lot against Texas offensive tackle Sam Cosmi. I’ve been battling him since he was a freshman, and he certainly has gained my respect. He’s a solid pass blocker, and I love competing against him because he pushes me to my limits.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
Riko Jeffers is going to be returning to our team next season. I remember him coming in as a freshman and earning a lot of playing time. He approaches the game the right way and puts forth a ton of effort. He’s going to be a terror in the Big 12 in 2021.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
Injuries certainly test a person’s mental fortitude. Unfortunately, I had to endure 2 ACL injuries when I was in high school. I had actually played QB up through my sophomore year of high school and had to make a shift to a different position after my injuries. When you’re on the sidelines recovering from injury, it helps shape your gratitude and appreciation for the sport. It feels like you’re letting your team down when you’re unable to play. Yet, another thing that my injuries taught me was patience. Things looked bleak at the time. It’s really harder mentally than physically because you’ve seen loads of people recover from similar injuries. I was ultimately able to establish myself well enough on defense in order to earn a scholarship to North Texas.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
In high school, I probably would have said baseball. Yet, as I get older, I think golf is the way to go. I also played basketball and threw discus in high school. Once I got to my junior year, I was all in on football.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
I was named Second Team All-Big 12 Conference my junior year. Yet, I’m most proud of earning my Masters in Financial Planning. That was a long process that was very challenging at times.

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
My freshman year, we were playing Texas. Sam Ehlinger had just earned the starting job. I was putting pressure on him and got in his throwing lane. That made him pull up and make a throw to my then roommate Justus Parker. Justus picked off the ball and ran it down into scoring position which set us up to win the game. We edged them out winning 27-23. That win ending up sending us to our bowl game.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
I was born in Providence, Rhode Island. My favorite player is Tom Brady. He’s the GOAT. I try to model my game after Joey Bosa. He’s a physical freak whose constant technique allows him to be dominant versus both the run and pass.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
When I’m in the locker room, I listen to rap before games like Future, Kevin Gates and Lil Baby. Yet, living on a ranch in West Texas, I usually listen to a lot of country music.

What is your favorite comfort food?
Back in Lubbock, TX I love going to Raider Burrito and getting a bunch of street tacos. I probably go there too often.

Do you have a favorite movie, TV show or actor?
My favorite movie of all time is Tombstone. Will Ferrell is one of my favorite actors. One of the TV shows that I really like is The Office.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
I’m a simple guy that likes the outdoors like hunting and fishing. I also help run my family’s business which is a hunting guiding service. An interesting fact about me is that my nickname is Cinco. My full name is Elisha Howard V.

Why do you play football? Who or what motivates you the most?
My mother is my why. She was single for most of my childhood and sacrificed a lot to give my brother and me all the opportunities that we’ve had. I owe a lot to hear, and I play this game because of her.

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