After a breakout performance in the 2016 College Football Playoff championship game, it's no surprise that Alabama tight end O.J. Howard is one of the hottest names in football heading into his senior season.

A day after being named to the Maxwell Award watch list, Howard finds himself on the John Mackey Award watch list, which is given annually to the top tight end in college football.

Once rated as one of the best prospects ever at his position in high school, Howard hasn't put up the statistics that many expected him to at Alabama. That all changed at the end of his junior year. After scoring just two touchdowns his entire career and zero since the ninth game of his freshman campaign, Howard reeled in two touchdown catches and 208 total receiving yards to earn offensive MVP honors against Clemson in the championship game.

Alabama will begin the 2016 season with uncertainty at quarterback for a third-straight year, but offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has shown the ability to maximize the production in the passing game with a first-year starter. Next season is expected to be more of the same and Howard should factor more prominently in the offense.

You can see the full John Mackey Award watch list here.

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