"Last spring, it was almost like you and me could be out there at running back," Horton said, nodding at a reporter. "And, that wouldn't be too good."
Starter Michael Smith is sitting out most all aspects of spring drills after offseason hamstring surgery. But there are plenty of other backs to get the work. However, no one looks better than Dennis Johnson, the star runner in the victory over LSU.
"If Dennis was a stock, he would be going up, up, up," Horton said. "He understands the offense totally and he is running with a purpose. He's catching the ball better. What he is doing is very encouraging."
Johnson displayed superb quickness and speed on Tuesday, the fruit of some heavy labor this winter in the offseason conditioning program.
"I am quicker, faster," Johnson said. "The coaches really helped me with the winter workouts. I never ran better than a 4.4 before I got here, but I ran 4.3-flat in our testing. That's after bumping up my weight lifting. I'm lifting heavier weights and I am a lot quicker. They gave me a lot of speed work that helped."
All of that speed is just part of the picture with Johnson.
"At the beginning of last year, I didn't even know the plays," he said. "I know them now and I know the blocking. I got better at the end of the year, but I'm a lot better off right now. Now, it seems very easy, to know what we are doing."
That's just part of the good news. Horton likes what he sees from Brandon Barnett, De'Anthony Curtis, Broderick Green and Knile Davis. Green is a transfer from Southern Cal. Davis is a true freshman who enrolled at mid-term.
"Knile is just a rookie," Horton said. "But he had a good day. He's a good learner and will be part of the battle there. We gave him a couple of plays in team at the end of practice and he did well. He's got so much to learn, though.
"We've got great competition back there right now. That's so much better. We know we can't put the entire load on one back like we did last year with Michael Smith. So it's good to have three or four backs there this spring. It was a good first day and there was a lot of enthusiasm."