Thursday, September 11, 2014

UConn players happy to hear of tribute plan for Jasper Howard

Byron Jones still remembers that mid-October, 2009 weekend as if it happened yesterday.

Jones, now a captain and star cornerback at UConn, was taking in his first UConn football game and his eyes were transfixed on this undersized but mercurial cornerback wearing jersey No. 6.

"I remember looking at him and thinking 'that guy is small.'" Jones said. "At the time Marcus Aiken, I went to high school with him, and I said 'Marcus, who is that small guy over there?' He said 'that's our starting corner.' I said 'he's starting? He plays?' Then he had that game where I think he had a strip fumble in the red zone and so many tackles. I was blown away by his performance. He was a guy with a small body but a big heart. I remember going home and getting a call from one of my friends that he passed away and it took my heart right out."

That player with a small body but big heart was Jasper Howard, a Miami native who had 11 tackles with a forced fumble and fumble recovery in win over Louisville. Just after midnight Howard was stabbed during an altercation outside the Student Union and he succumbed to his injuries.

In the last year there has been an effort, spearheaded by UConn fan Lisa Lowry, to erect a statue of Howard at Rentschler Field and last week it was announced that a secure giving fund was set up by the UConn Foundation to raise the necessary amount of money to make the memorial to Howard become a reality.

"That is awesome," Jones said. "I know a lot of people out there are really fighting hard for it and it was a long battle. Unfortunately I wasn't there at the time and I am sure he was a great person and a great teammate."

While none of current UConn players took the field alongside Howard, his former teammates have been among the most vocal supporters of the project. Hearing current NFL players pushing so hard to remember their fallen teammate is something that has moved the members of the current UConn squad.

"I didn't have the privilege to meet Jasper Howard but everything I hear about him is he was a very stand-up guy, everybody loved him and I feel honored that we are able to celebrate his life,' UConn senior receiver Deshon Foxx said. "When you have so many people who cared about you like that, they will do anything to get a statue up for you, you must be something special."

Jones certainly echoes the same sentiments.

"Those are guys are great character and that is a huge part of who Jasper Howard was, he was a great person and the kind of person that his teammates didn't forget about," Jones said. "Just because of the person he was, the type of impact that he had, .people have moved on from UConn are in the NFL and are still fighting to have this memorial."

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Anonymous Lisa Lowry said...

Jim thanks so much for this blog. The current team has been so supportive of this endeavor.

September 11, 2014 8:34 PM 

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