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Howard Signs To Be A Defensive Assistant Coach With Appalachian State

Former App State and NFL standout A.J. Howard is returning home to be a defensive assistant coach with the Mountaineers, head coach Shawn Clark announced Friday.

After a standout career in Boone as a three-year starting safety, Howard won a Super Bowl ring as a member of the 2018-19 New England Patriots. He has since served as a graduate assistant coach at Louisville and an area scout for the Patriots.

“We’re excited to welcome A.J., his wife, Sammie, and their son, Duke, back to Boone,” Clark said. “A.J. brings tremendous experience as a former player in our program and a Super Bowl champion. He has earned the opportunity to be a full-time coach as a great leader, a teacher of the game and a tireless worker. He loves App State, and we’re glad he’s back here with us on the mountain.”

Howard spent the last two years as a Southeast area scout for the Patriots, with whom he played in 2019. He also spent time on the rosters of the Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions before earning his first coaching position as a graduate assistant on Scott Satterfield’s Louisville staff in 2020. He worked with the UL defense during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, helping the defense double its interception total from his first to his second year and helping the Cardinals reach a bowl appearance in 2021.

“I’m excited to get back to the mountain,” Howard said. “I always say I was born in Georgia, but I did most of my growing up in Boone. My wife and I are excited to be back as part of the App community. I appreciate Coach Clark and Doug Gillin for the opportunity. Roll ‘Neers.”

A 2017 graduate of App State, Howard started every game at strong safety in 2014, 2016 and 2017 and led the Mountaineers to three straight bowl wins in their first three years being bowl eligible from 2015-17. He received All-Sun Belt distinction his junior and senior years while helping the program to its first two Sun Belt Conference titles.

He totaled 222 tackles in 51 career games played (38 starts), while also tallying four interceptions and 18 passes defended. Serving as a team captain in 2017 and a leader throughout his tenure, App State’s defense ranked first or second among Sun Belt teams in both points allowed per game and yards allowed per game in each of Howard’s last three seasons.



Coaching Experience
2020-21: Louisville (Graduate assistant – defense)

Playing Experience
2014-17: App State (Safety)

2018: Arizona Cardinals, New York Giants, New England Patriots (Safety)

2019: New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Philadelphia Eagles, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions (Safety)

Alma Mater: App State, 2017
Hometown: Hamilton, Ga.
Birthdate: Dec. 23, 1995
Wife: Sammie
Son: Duke