Thomas Howard came to UTEP as a 190-pound walk-on defensive back, he would eventually leave UTEP as an all-time great at linebacker, and the highest NFL drafted alum in 37 years at the time.
Howard would break out in the 2003 season, racking up 118 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks, and an interception along side Robert Rodriguez.
Finishing his career with 296 tackles, 34 tackles for loss, and 13 sacks, his tackle for loss numbers are third best in school history, while his sack pile ups are good for sixth all-time in UTEP history.
Howard was a three year stater who started 39 games in his Miner career, and earned all-conference honors in his final two seasons. He was also named UTEP's defensive MVP in 2005 after his 85 tackle season, also adding in three sacks.
Heading into his 2005 senior season Howard was named Dave Campbell's Magazine pre-season defensive player of the year making him the first Miner to garner that honor from the long standing publication.
The Oakland Raiders drafted Howard with the 38th pick in the 2006 NFL draft, he would go on to play 95 career NFL games with the Raiders, Bengals, and Falcons. Howard totaled 429 tackles and 7 interceptions in his NFL career.
Howard lead all NFL linebackers in interceptions in his second season in 2007 with Oakland.
Not only was Howard a standout on the football field, he was a ambassador to the El Paso community, and gave back in huge ways.
Howard created the Thomas Howard Foundation that would hold an annual award banquet to honor a scholarship to a UTEP walk-on athlete taking the tough steps Howard did to fulfill his dreams.
Though he his not here with us today, his on field excellence, and charitable contributions to the community of El Paso, and UTEP will live on forever.