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Owls' Howard Named as Cliff Harris Award Finalist

Zach Howard leads the Owls onto the field.
Zach Howard leads the Owls onto the field.

WESTFIELD, Mass.  –  Add another honor for Zach Howard's (Prouty/Spencer, Mass.) mantle.

The Westfield State University graduate student linebacker has been named as a finalist for the Cliff Harris Award, presented to the Small College Defensive Player of the Year.

Howard previously claimed the MASCAC Defensive player of the year award with his fine all-around play.  He led the Owls in tackles (78), and was among the team and league leaders in sacks, tackles for loss, forced fumbles and interceptions.  He returned an interception for a touchdown in the Owls win against Worcester State.  Howard was named to the All-Conference team for a third straight season, completing a remarkable comeback story that included three knee surgeries between his senior year of high school and five years of college, as he used his medical redshirt year to play this season as a grad student.

He was also named to the New England Football Writers Division II/III All-New England team, and was a All-East Region selection.

A criminal justice major, Howard is pursuing an accelerated master's program and looks forward to pursuing a career in law enforcement.

Presented by the Little Rock Touchdown Club, the Cliff Harris Award award is named in honor of former Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris.  Undrafted out of unheralded Ouachita Baptist University, Harris played in five Super Bowls (the Cowboys won two of them), was named to the Pro Bowl six times and was named a first-team All-NFL player for four consecutive seasons by both The Associated Press and the Pro Football Writers Association.

The award winner is chosen by a blue-ribbon panel which includes Harris, NFL Hall of Famer Roger Staubach, and former Alabama head coach Gene Stallings among others.

An overall winner will be announced on December 24th and honored at the Little Rock Touchdown Club's annual awards banquet on January 10, 2019.

Howard was named as a finalist among more than 5,000 defensive players from almost 500 NCAA Division II, Division III and NAIA colleges and universities.

For more information on the award and a full list of the finalists, visit