Jaxon Howard on Gophers: 'To have that M on my chest really does mean a lot'

Jaxon Howard was the top-ranked football player out of Robbinsdale Cooper in the Class of 2023, and took his talents to LSU for hist first college season.

After appearing in five games and making two tackles, Howard decided it was time for a change of scenery. He left the SEC for the Big Ten, and made the decision to come home. Earlier this spring, Howard entered the NCAA transfer portal and is back playing for P.J. Fleck and the Gophers. Minnesota was one of his four finalists when he chose LSU on his commitment day.

"Being able to come back and play for the Gophers is something that just excites me a lot. Realistically I was at a different spot this past year, but being able to come back home and play for the University of Minnesota and have that ‘M’ right here on my chest really does mean a lot to me," Howard said Saturday. "I’m just prepared for this fall to be able to wear it with pride and bring my all to everything that I do. I’m excited man."

To show that excitement, Howard hosted a welcome home party on Saturday at Arizona Taco Company in New Hope. Howard said back in high school, he would go there multiple times a week during his junior and senior years for open lunch.

His go-to? Carne sada fries. Donning a maroon Minnesota quarter zip with a Nike gold "M" logo, Howard said it was an easy spot to have his coming home party.

"Being able to come up here, it’s like a real big home feeling I would say. It doesn’t really matter who you are and whoever you are that walks through that door, they’re going to treat you like family," Howard said. "That’s something that I thought about when I wanted to find a place that I could be like what represents me? AZ Taco is a group of amazing people that represent who I am and how to respect others."

Howard, once a top player in Minnesota and a top-300 recruit in the nation, is an edge rusher that hopes to make life difficult for quarterbacks. He’ll join a defensive line that already features Danny Striggow, Jalen Logan-Redding, Jah Joyner, Anthony Smith and Deven Eastern.

The Gophers are off for the summer but start fall camp in August. They’ll open the 2024 regular season on Thursday, Aug. 29 against North Carolina at Huntington Bank Stadium, a game you can watch on FOX 9.