Southern Miss redshirt senior linebacker Alan Howze has been officially cleared by the NCAA to play this season, head coach Todd Monken confirmed Thursday.
USM asked the NCAA to grant Howze a medical redshirt after he was injured early in the fourth game of the 2013 season at Boise State. Monken fully expected the NCAA to clear Howze, and USM received the official word Thursday.
The return of Howze, who has been participating in spring practice, is a major boost for the defense headed into the 2014 campaign. He had 38 tackles before his season ended in 2013.
Howze, an Ocean Springs product, will be the starting middle linebacker for the Golden Eagles.