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New defensive line coach has connection to current player

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BERKELEY -- After already filling the wide receivers coaching vacancy with NFL veteran Wes Chandler, the California football team announced on Saturday that Todd Howard will replace the departed Tosh Lupoi as the defensive line coach, after going through an interview process shielded from the current players until early Friday afternoon.
At the very least, the hire of Howard gives a familiar face to at least one current Bear: tailback Daniel Lasco.
Howard was an all-conference and honorable mention All-America selection with Texas A&M, starting at linebacker for three seasons (1984-86) on teams which won a pair of conference titles alongside Lasco's uncle -- Sammy O'Brient -- in his time with the Aggies, with O'Brient serving as a nose guard on the famed Texas A&M Wrecking Crew.
Howard graduated from A&M in 1991 with a bachelor's degree in sociology and received his master's degree in human resources from the same university in 1995, after stints in the NFL and the World League of American Football.
While Lupoi was a young, up-and-coming recruiter and coach, Howard has a combined 20 years of coaching experience at the NFL and collegiate levels.
"I'm excited to have Todd Howard as our defensive line coach," said head coach Jeff Tedford. "He has a tremendous amount of experience as both a coach and player at the NFL and collegiate level. We've had an opportunity to play against several of the teams he has coached in the past, and I've always been impressed by the way his defensive line has played. He is also consistent with what we stand for at Cal and will be an excellent mentor to our student-athletes athletically, academically and socially."
Howard spent the 2011 season as the defensive line coach at Washington State, where he produced an All-Pac-12 second-team selection in Travis Long.
"This is an outstanding opportunity for me to work with Jeff Tedford and the Cal football program," Howard said. "Cal teams always play hard and are well coached, and I believe that my coaching experience and knowledge will be an asset to the program. I am familiar with this conference and coaching the defensive line at this level."
Prior to arriving in Pullman, Howard was defensive line coach and assistant head coach on defense for UCLA.
While in Westwood, Howard was one of the first coaches to offer current Cal target Arik Armstead -- all the way back when he was in ninth grade. His hire could prove a big factor in swaying the big man's decision come National Signing Day.
Howard coached three first-team All-Americans in Bruce Davis, Justin Hickman and Brian Price, the latter earning 2009 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year honors and now a two-year NFL veteran with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In 2010, Howard coached All-Pac-10 freshmen honorees Cassius Marsh and Owamagbe Odighizuwa in his final season with the Bruins. Price recorded 23.5 tackles for loss in 2009, the highest total ever by a Bruin lineman. UCLA defensive ends Korey Bosworth and Datone Jones combined for 25.0 tackles for loss.
In 2008, Price earned first‐team All‐Pac‐10 and Sophomore All‐America honors. He ranked seventh in the Pac‐10 with 14.0 tackles for loss. Brigham Harwell was a second‐team All‐Pac‐10 pick and Bosworth ranked seventh in the Pac‐10 in sacks (7.5). In 2007, UCLA ranked 14th in the nation in rush defense (109.2 ypg) and 29th in total defense (343.23 ypg). In addition, the 2007 Bruins defense ranked second in the nation in tackles for loss per game (8.77 tflpg) and tied for 15th in sacks per game (3.0 spg).
Davis led the team with 12.0 sacks (T1st Pac-10) and 15.5 tackles for loss. Davis' two‐year total of 24.5 sacks in 2006 and '07 is second only to Dave Ball (27.5 in '02,'03) for the most‐ever by a Bruin in back‐to‐back seasons. In his first season at UCLA in 2006, the line showed marked improvement. The Bruins were ranked tied for ninth (tied) in the nation and led the Pac‐10 in rush defense (91.08 ypg) and 33rd nationally in total defense (304.83). Hickman and Davis tied for first in the conference and fourth in the nation with 12.5 quarterback sacks.
Davis was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third round of the NFL Draft and most recently played for the Oakland Raiders in 2011. After originally signing as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Redskins in 2007, Hickman has made a name for himself in the Canadian Football League by recording 27.0 sacks over the last three seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Hickman posted 13.0 sacks in 2011 to earn CFL All-Star honors for the first time.
Howard served for three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-05 as the assistant defensive line coach. The Jaguars finished 12-4 in the regular season to earn a spot in the NFL Playoffs in his final season, with the defense leading the NFL in fewest rushing touchdowns allowed (four) during his final season. The same squad ranked tied for third in the league with 47.0 quarterback sacks, sixth in total defense (290.9 ypg), seventh in passing defense (184.1 ypg) and 14th in rushing defense (106.8 ypg). Defensive tackle Marcus Stroud earned All-Pro honors and Pro Bowl selections in each of Howard's three seasons in Jacksonville. John Henderson was an alternate 2005 Pro Bowl pick after playing in the game the previous season.
Howard's other NFL coaching experience came as a defensive assistant for two seasons (1998-99) with the St. Louis Rams, who won Super Bowl XXXIV in Howard's second season. Howard was a member of the NFL's minority coaching program with the Washington Redskins during the team's 1997 training camp, helping on defense. He also performed a minority coaching internship with the San Diego Chargers in 2002.
Before his coaching stints in the Pac-12, Howard coached collegiately at Louisiana Tech (2000-02), Grinnell College in Iowa (1994-97) and his alma mater Texas A&M (1991-93), where he was a member of a staff that captured three Southwest Conference titles.
The Aggies posted a 32-5 overall record and a 25-0 SWC mark with Howard on board, playing in the Cotton Bowl all three seasons. The 2001 team he coached at Louisiana Tech also took home the Western Athletic Conference crown and played in the Humanitarian Bowl. Howard was hired as the associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator at Southwest Texas State in 2003 before leaving to join the Jaguars.
A third-round draft choice of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1987, Howard played in the NFL for two seasons as an inside linebacker and on special teams. He also spent one season playing for the Barcelona Dragons of the World League of American Football in 1991 and was on the squad's injured reserve throughout the 1992 season.
More from BearTerritory.net on the status of the recruiting class and coaching staff shake-ups:
Lupoi Leaves for Washington
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Kiesau Joins Lupoi
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Bears Hire Chandler
Walker Committed For Now