While A'Shawn Robinson and Derrick Henry opted to leave school early for the NFL, Alabama will still return a solid nucleus of talent in its quest for a national title repeat in 2016.
Two days after defensive end Jonathan Allen dropped a very strong hint about his intentions for the 2016 season, tight end O.J. Howard -- the star of Alabama's national title game win over Clemson -- went to social media to formally announce that he will be back for the Crimson Tide this fall.
Last week, Alabama safety Eddie Jackson also announced his decision to return to help the Tide defend their title in 2016.
A strong hint of Howard's intentions for 2016 were revealed when he was not present for Alabama's formal press conference on Friday to announce that Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry and defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson would forgo their senior seasons to apply for early entry into the 2016 NFL Draft.
Howard was an underutilized passing-game threat during the regular season, but had a breakthrough performance in the national title game win over Clemson. Howard caught five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Howard entered the game without a single touchdown catch, and a season-high of 70 yards receiving in Alabama's 43-37 loss to Ole Miss.