Earlier this week, former West Virginia defensive lineman Darrien Howard informed me that he had signed a pro contract with the Atlanta Legends of the Alliance of American Football. The contract is now official and Howard will begin with the team in January.
Howard graduated from West Virginia in 2016 and played a large role in the success of the defense, which led West Virginia to a 10-win season.
Generally speaking, lining up as a nose tackle in a 3-3-5 scheme doesn’t allow players to rack up stats, since their job is mainly to keep linemen busy and open up opportunities for linebackers. Howard was unconventional, though, because he did actually finish with damn good numbers. Howard ended his career with 92 tackles, four sacks and one forced fumble. The defense clearly missed his presence last season, as it struggled to defend the run up front.
“My journey isn’t over,” Howard told DVN after signing the contract. “New chapter coming soon!!”
The new eight-team league is run by a cadre of big former NFL names — Bill Polian, Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, Jared Allen and Justin Tuck. Some other notable players who have found a home in the AAF are former NFL running backs Trent Richardson and Zac Stacy, as well as former Auburn defensive back Chris Davis III — he of kick-six fame.
This is a great opportunity for Howard to get his crack at the pro level as he starts his climb up toward the league. All it takes is one NFL franchise to like what they see in the former Mountaineer.