UM's Howard, 'GameDay' added to ESPN's NFL Draft coverage

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Former Michigan player Desmond Howard will be part of ESPN's expanded television coverage for the NFL Draft.

Desmond Howard is long removed from his NFL Draft experience, but not so much he doesn’t understand what the upcoming draft means for every college football player hoping to play at the next level.

Howard, the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner from Michigan who was selected by Washington in the first round of the 1992 draft, will be part of ESPN’s NFL Draft coverage this week with the draft debut of "College GameDay." Howard is a fixture on "GameDay" along with Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and David Pollack during the college football season.

This is a new approach for ESPN and the intent is for the "GameDay" crew to provide information on the players’ college careers and project how they will play in the NFL. It will air from 5-7 p.m. Thursday and 5-6 p.m. Friday on ESPN2.

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“It’s just changed drastically since I was drafted from a television perspective to how the organizations draft and the locations,” Howard said in a telephone interview. “It’s a show and a spectacle. But it’s a big deal. It’s a huge deal for these young men. They’re starting an important chapter in their lives.

“I hope the significance of that isn’t lost in the pageantry of the draft. It’s going to be very emotional for some of these guys. You’re going to see parents cry and people who are instrumental in their lives cry. This is a game-changer for their families. That’s going to come across on the screen.”

Howard said the concept of this part of the NFL Draft coverage is to be more conversational and relaxed.

“Let the viewers feel like their eavesdropping on a conversation,” he said.

NFL Draft fans often aren’t college football fans, so Howard said the purpose of "GameDay" is to enlighten those unfamiliar with what their team’s draft selections did in college.

“To be completely honest, I would like to give the viewers a more in-depth perspective of the player that was drafted because I would assume a lot of the viewers may not be as familiar with these players because they’re probably fans of their NFL teams,” he said. “So who is this guy and what does he bring to this organization? I’d fill the blanks for the viewers.”

But Howard wants to look forward, as well.

“What I talk about will be 75 percent what they did in college, but I want to give some sort of projection how they will do even by the organization they’re drafted by,” he said. “So that’s more homework to do — getting background on the team that drafted the player and the personnel around them and how they’re going to fit it in.”

Once the draft concludes, Howard will get back to stopping in at ongoing spring football practices and then he will participate in the taping of "GameDay" commercials for the fall.

He’s delighted with the addition of "College GameDay" to the NFL Draft and hopes there’s more to come.

“I want to do more,” Howard said. “I want to be more active. Blessed to be where I am.”