Alabama tight end O.J. Howard was selected as one of 10 finalists for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award, it was announced on Thursday morning.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

In the classroom, Howard has already earned his undergraduate degree as of this past May and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in the Sport Business Management program at Alabama. He earned Dean’s List honors in his final semester of undergraduate studies and maintains a 3.0 grade point average.

One of the Crimson Tide’s vocal leaders, Howard also leads by the example he displays both on and off the field. He is a member of the football team’s leadership council and has earned himself a spot as a game captain on numerous occasions. A recognizable face across the state, Howard makes an effort to be available to the media and fans – win or lose – always displaying a positive attitude. The senior tight end goes out of his way on a consistent basis to accommodate team members, football staff and media members, despite his loaded schedule with athletics and class in his graduate year.

Howard has spent extensive time in the community, working with the elderly and youth organizations across the state of Alabama. He regularly visits children’s hospitals in Birmingham and also spent time at the children’s hospitals in New Orleans and Dallas during the Crimson Tide’s bowl trips. Howard has also volunteered numerous hours at retirement homes across Tuscaloosa and at the VA hospital of Tuscaloosa in each of the last three years. Most recently, he and teammates spent a day this summer doing a Habitat for Humanity build with his teammates, and later helped to pack up football equipment for schools in West Virginia affected by the significant floods that hit the state over the summer.

On the field, Howard has been one of the Tide’s most consistent players and one of the top tight ends in the nation. Heading into the 2016 season, he was chosen to the Mackey, Maxwell, Wuerffel and Lombardi Award preseason watch lists. In eight games this year, the senior tight end has caught 22 passes for 278 yards and two touchdown. Last season, he was named MVP of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game thanks to his record-setting performance against Clemson that saw him haul in five catches for a career-high 208 yards and two touchdowns. He also finished his junior season as the team’s leader in yards per catch, averaging 15.8 yards per reception.

To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I FBS senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.

The finalists were chosen by a selection committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in September. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner, and fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website through December 12. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches’ votes to determine the winner. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the football bowl season in early January.