Auburn offensive lineman Mike Horton talks about his work at right guard, his progress as a player, and more.
Auburn, Ala.--Working with the offense last season as a redshirt freshman, Mike Horton got more reps than the average first-year player as he practiced behind Avery Young at right offensive tackle. Now seeing much of his time at right guard this spring, Horton has the chance to work behind budding offensive line star Braden Smith for the Tigers.
He has also had the chance to work with new offensive line Coach Herb Hand for the first time after getting to know him on the recruiting trail. The first coach to offer Horton while he was still at Vanderbilt, Hand said he's seen some good things from the young lineman so far in the spring.
"Mike's doing a great job, he really is, for a guy who is a freshman," Hand said. "From what I understand last year he got a lot of reps working with the two group and you can tell. Mike is a guy we're expecting really big things from as we move forward."
The praise doesn't just come from the coaching side of things because Horton is really fond of his new coach as well. Known as a guy with a lot of personality, Hand has put the guys at ease all the while demanding the most out of them said Horton.
"I like Coach Hand a lot," he said. "He's taught me some stuff that I've never even seen or thought about. He's a great coach."
With Hand mixing his offensive linemen throughout the five positions up front to try to find his best five players, but also build more depth for down the road, Horton is a player that could be valuable for Auburn in 2016 and beyond because of his ability to tackle and guard. While settling in to one spot is always best, he said at the moment it's all about making the team better.
"I like both of them," Horton said. "Anywhere I can get on the field to help my team, that's what I'm trying to do.
"It's tough at first but you get used to it, but you just listen to your coach and you can adjust quickly." he said of the moving. " That adjustment is something Horton hasn't had to get used to in terms of coaches leaving, however.
Even though both Will Muschamp and Travaris Robinson were a big part of his recruiting process after he originally committed to them while they were still at Florida and with former position Coach J.B. Grimes also gone, it could make for a tough situation for a freshman. Horton said none of that had any impact on him because he's at Auburn because that's where he wanted to be.
"They were a big part of my recruitment, but I came here because I wanted to come here," Horton said. "It wasn't really because of anything extra that they said. I really love Auburn to my soul. I just love Auburn and them leaving didn't really affect me that much. I was close to them, but they had to go what they had to do. I'm happy for them."
Enjoying his time on the Plains and ready to fight for a position, Horton is in a challenging spot at the moment behind Smith, one of the top guards in the Southeastern Conference and perhaps the entire country. Even though he's fighting an uphill battle for playing time right now the mature youngster said for him it's all part of the process of becoming the best player he can be.
"I know I have to work and get better," Horton said. "If I'm not in that first group I know there's a reason. I'm just going to keep working until I get there."