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BATON ROUGE – Former LSU quarterback Walker Howard could transfer to Ole Miss as early as Tuesday or Wednesday, sources close to LSU and Ole Miss confirmed on Tuesday morning.
Howard (6-foot-1, 195) enjoyed an outstanding visit at Ole Miss on Friday and Saturday before visiting TCU on Sunday. TCU, which lost veteran starting quarterback Max Duggan to the upcoming NFL draft, was considered the favorite when TigerBait.com first reported Howard leaving LSU last week. Howard made his transfer official on Monday night on Twitter.
“As a kid, I always dreamed of playing at LSU,” Howard tweeted. “I never imagined being anywhere else. However, when things happen in life, we have to adjust and keep moving forward.”
Howard liked his visit with Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin as well as Ole Miss co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Charlie Weis Jr. Weis completed his first season with the Rebels in 2022 after coming over from the offensive coordinator post at South Florida.
A native of Lafayette (57 miles from LSU), Howard is the son of former LSU quarterback Jamie Howard, who started for most of four seasons from 1992-95. Walker’s dad has avoided interviews about his son since Walker decided to leave LSU last week.
Brian Kelly Did Not Guarantee Howard Equal No. 2 Snaps
Walker decided to exit LSU, sources say, because LSU coach Brian Kelly did not guarantee him equal snaps with No. 2 quarterback Garrett Nussmeier this spring. Walker and Nussmeier would have been battling for the No. 2 job at LSU behind entrenched starter Jayden Daniels. Nussmeier finished the 2022 season as the No. 2 quarterback as a redshirt freshman. Daniels elected to return for his senior season in 2023.
So, there was a strong chance Howard could have entered his 2023 redshirt freshman season as the No. 3 quarterback at LSU for the second straight year. And Howard signed with LSU in 2022 as a five-star prospect, according to Rivals.com, and as the No. 2 pro style quarterback in the nation and No. 20 prospect overall.
Kiffin, as he has been wont to do, mocked a dancing Kelly’s recruitment and signing of Howard last Friday on Twitter by retweeting the tweet below.
Howard is apparently about to have his new coach in Kiffin, who has been known as a quarterback guru for decades. Ole Miss and LSU were also major rivals back in the days of the 1950s and ’60s, and the Rebels still view the Tigers very much as a rival. LSU, though, considers Alabama its chief rival, though that is not reciprocated by Alabama.
Meanwhile, the portal continues to trump legacy. If Bear Bryant’s great grandson – Paul Tyson of Trussville, Alabama – will transfer from Alabama to Arizona State after the 2021 season, Howard bolting from his family history is not big news. The original report did not make the front page of the Baton Rouge paper’s sports section last week.
Tyson has since transferred again – to Clemson last month. That’s what’s funny about the transfer portal. Many kids are still struggling to realize that if you’re a reserve at an Alabama, you may not start at an Arizona State either, and you’re probably not going to play much at a Clemson as well. If you want to play, it is best to clearly take a step down in program – like out of a Power Five conference or out of the Football Bowl Subdivision all together.
Walker Howard Was The Future At QB For LSU
Now, that’s not the case with Howard, who has the talent to make a lateral or upwardly mobile move and become the starter in his first season. At Ole Miss, he will be the No. 2 right off with previous No. 2 Luke Altmyer transferring to Illinois last month. Ole Miss hosted former Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders for a visit early this month, but he remained in the portal as of Tuesday.
Howard will have a chance to compete with returning starter Jaxson Dart immediately at Ole Miss. At LSU, he could have been a No. 3 for a full year again.
And Daniels would have been much more difficult to beat out than Dart as Daniels is a valuable dual threat. Daniels threw for 2,913 yards and led the Tigers in rushing in 2022 with 885 yards and 11 touchdowns. Daniels more than any other LSU player is the reason the Tigers (10-4, 6-2) won the Southeastern Conference West in 2022 after being picked to finish fifth at SEC Media Days. Ole Miss finished 8-5 and 4-4.
Dart, on the other hand, was inconsistent in 2022 as a sophomore. He completed 226 of 362 passes for 2,974 yards and 20 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He finished No. 7 in the SEC and 42nd nationally in passing efficiency at 143.6. Daniels was No. 6 and No. 40 at 144.5.
Still, Howard was seen as the future of the LSU quarterback position. Kelly recruited him to Notre Dame when he was still there in 2021. He signed as a four-star prospect, the No. 40 overall player and the No. 5 quarterback in the country by Sports 247.
Howard wowed Kelly and his offensive staff during spring drills last year and in practices throughout the 2022 season. But Daniels, a transfer from Arizona State in 2022, was a pleasant surprise at quarterback. Daniels, a true dual threat, was clearly the most consistent and valuable offensive player, particularly early when the offensive line struggled.
Garrett Nussmeier Took Over No. 2 Late In 2022 In Blowouts
Meanwhile, Nussmeier and Howard were in what appeared to be a close battle for the No. 2 position. Most around LSU assumed Nussmeier would be the one entering the portal after the season – not Howard. But Nussmeier took over No. 2 late in the 2022 season. This is where Kelly goofed, though. Nussmeier’s star shined brighter than Howard’s only because of his play in two blowout games.
Nussmeier completed 15 of 27 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns with an interception in the SEC championship game against Georgia. But he did not enter until the third quarter with the Bulldogs ahead 35-10 and on the way to a 50-30 win.
In a 63-7 win over Purdue in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 2, Nussmeier completed 11 of 15 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Howard only got in late, completing 2 of 4 passes for seven yards. He also spent most of the bowl practices with the third team, and he didn’t like it. And those were his only passes of the season through two games. The red-shirt minimum is four games, not counting a bowl.
OutKick actually predicted Howard’s transfer on Twitter during the Citrus Bowl to the shock of some LSU fans in the replies below.
Nussmeier finished 52 of 84 on the season for 800 yards passing with five touchdowns in seven games. Often erratic throughout his brief career, though, Nussmeier also threw four interceptons. In 2021, he was 29 of 57 for 329 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in four games. He frequently threw interceptions in August scrimmages.
Kelly could well regret his decision not to guarantee Howard equal No. 2 snaps during spring drills. How difficult would that have been to do, by the way?
LSU will be strong at quarterback without Howard in 2023. And if Nussmeier can mature, Kelly will be solid there in 2024. Already committed to his class of 2024 is four-star Colin Hurley of Trinity Christian in Jacksonville, Florida. Hurley is the No. 11 quarterback in the nation for 2024 by 247 Sports’ composite rankings.
That’s still too iffy, though. Daniels dealt with injuries often last season. And LSU knows what it has lost. Kelly and LSU quarterback coach Joe Sloan have been trying desperately to get Howard back to LSU. Now, LSU is promising equal No. 2 snaps to Howard this spring.
And suddenly there is more money available to Howard via Name, Image and Likeness, but not nearly as much as Auburn has been throwing Howard’s way for the last week.
But it’s too late. The next time LSU sees Jamie Howard’s son in Tiger Stadium will be in the 2024 season.