O.J. Howard, five-star tight end from Autauga Academy in Prattville, Ala., is preparing for his early arrival at Alabama in January. He will travel to Tuscaloosa this weekend for the Auburn game.
"It's an opportunity to bounce back after losing our last SEC game at home," Howard said. "I think everyone is taking it very serious. We are back to No. 2 in the BCS. We know if we lose we won't get another shot.
"We have to be smart out there. We have to make good decisions and not make mistakes. I think it might actually be a good first quarter because of the rivalry. Auburn might even score first. It will be a blow out at the end of the game though.
"As a recruit I am still kind of like a fan out there. I think once you become a player it becomes a lot more serious. When you go down for the Iron Bowl practice the guys are so much more focused. I'll have to make it worth my while when I get there."
Howard shared his thoughts of Saturday night as Kansas State and Oregon lost their games propelling Alabama back to No. 2 in the BCS.
"It was exciting," he said. "I was predicting all three to lose. All we needed was two. It happened. We just keep finding ways to put ourselves back in position. We have to finish business. I think we will."
Howard arrives in Tuscaloosa in about six weeks with hopes of playing as a freshman. He recognizes the opportunity in front of him.
"I am ready to get there," he said. "It would be nice if you could just go right away, but I have to wait another month. I am just excited and ready to go. I know it's going to be hard, but I know it's going to be worth it.
"I already know who I am rooming with. We are going to have a four person room with me, Josh McNeil, Parker McLeod and Cooper Bateman. I am already really good friends with all of those guys.
"I am also good friends with DeMarcus Walker and Derrick Henry. I think they are rooming together. Everyone in this class is really close. We have a very close group. I think we are going to bond really well and stick together especially the guys going in early."
Howard scored 14 touchdowns on offense this fall while missing four games. He will play in the AISA All-Star game next week and the Under Armour All-America game in January.
"I really just want to become more flexible," Howard said. "I am a little stiff. Everything else will come. I know once I get there I will get stronger and much bigger. I know I can work on my technique. I know they will coach us up and give us the best training once we get there."
Expectations are high for the nation's No. 5 overall prospect.
"I am one of those guys who believes in myself at the position," he said. "I feel like I have a good chance to start. If not, at least get some real good playing time. I am just going to work really hard.
"It's wide open right now at H-Back or tight end. Michael Williams and Kelly Johnson will be gone. There really isn't anyone else with a lot of experience. It's open for grabs. Hopefully I can be a big key for the offense."