"It felt more natural to me than playing defensive end," Horton says. "I actually played a little linebacker in high school so it wasn't a big adjustment for me. It was just getting used to all the calls and getting the checks. That was the hardest thing. Other than that it was just running and hitting. That's what I liked to do."
Horton works on his footwork early in Tuesday's practice.
Since arriving on the job, new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has harped on the fact that he wanted bigger linebackers in his defense. That was taken care of with the move of Horton. At 6-4 and right at 250 pounds, Horton is the physical type of player that Muschamp covets for his defense. The problem is that Horton says that's something he has to tone down in his move to linebacker.
"The hardest adjustment to playing linebacker is trying to become less physical," Horton says. "Coming off the end we've got to get a real good strike on the offensive tackle. If you don't get a strike on that first step it's pretty much over. Today I felt myself lunging some trying to get that strike and it messed up my footwork. I got out of position because of that, but I worked my way back into it."
Notified by position coach Terry Price on Monday that he would be making the position change, Horton says that besides the fact that he likes linebacker it also gives him a chance to get on the field sooner.
"He asked me what I would feel about playing the Sam," Horton says. "Instead of rotating with the twos and threes at defensive end I would be rotating with the twos at linebacker and possibly the ones. Today I got by shot with the first-team and I showed I could handle it out there.
"It was real exciting," he adds of his first practice at linebacker. "I love being versatile. I told Coach (Tommy Tuberville) when I first got here that if he needed me to play strong safety or free safety I would do that. I want to help the team and I'm confident in the athletic ability I was given."