Florida Football Recruiting: Former priority linebacker Pup Howard is in the portal

Florida was one of three schools Pup Howard took a visit to last summer

Andrew Jackson's Grayson Howard (0) looks on during the first quarter of a regular season football
Andrew Jackson's Grayson Howard (0) looks on during the first quarter of a regular season football / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA
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One of the areas for Florida football that is going to be a bit of a mystery in 2024 is at linebacker. Shemar James is set to return and assuming he is healthy he should have one of the slots locked down. But with Scooby Williams hitting the portal, the Gators on paper will either be playing Mannie Nunnery or one of their two true freshmen entering the program (Myles Graham and Aaron Chiles)

While Graham and Chiles are expected to be studs in time, it would behoove the Gators to add depth to the group and last night one of their former priority targets hit the transfer portal.

Florida Football: This Pup Is Gonna Fly

Grayson "Pup" Howard was a top 200 overall prospect in the class of 2023. The four-star linebacker out of Jacksonville had offers from almost everyone in the SEC, and he took official visits to Florida, Georgia, and USC last June.

He wound up committing to the Gamecocks and played in all 13 games in 2023 in a backup role getting about 20 snaps a game.

His play in Columbia in 2023 was similar to what his tape showed coming out of high school. Howard isn't a blitzing, rush the QB type of middle linebacker. Nor is he one that drops a ton into coverage. Howard's strength is his ability to diagnose run plays and fill gaps correctly to stop running backs at the line of scrimmage.

According to PFF, he had 12 solo tackles and seven more assists. More importantly, he had zero missed tackles for the entirety of his freshman campaign.

Listed a 6'4" and 241 pounds, Howard isn't a pup size wise. He is not afraid to get his nose dirty and while his pass coverage abilities are a question mark, we would have to imagine that Billy Napier is at least taking a look at circling back on Howard for the 2024 season.