The timing is right for Horn to come to the rescue. He was just cleared to practice at full speed last week after spending more than half of the season rehabbing the dreaded high ankle sprain, an injury that Tuberville notes can be one of the most difficult for a football to overcome. "Sometimes it is easier to come back from a broken bone," Tuberville says.
Horn agrees it has been a long rehab, but says this is an exciting week coming up for the redshirt sophomore from Huntsville, Ala., as he joins the tailback mix in preparations for an SEC game at Ole Miss on Saturday. "I am going to get my chance to do what I have been doing since I was a little kid," says Horn.
"I am pretty close to 100 percent now. I need to get a little bit more flexibility back in it, but I will be OK. The high ankle sprains are tough to get over because they keep you from cutting and changing directions like you want to do, but I am doing much better and I will be fine."
For Horn, who suffered through frustrating 2000 and 2001 seasons, his collegiate career took an upbeat turn earlier this year. With No. 1 fullback Brandon Johnson rehabbing in the spring, Horn split time at the position with Michael Owens and got some action in at tailback. He was named the Most Improved Offensive Skill Player in spring drills and Tuberville said that the plan for Horn was for a significantly increased role on the 2002 team with action expected at both the running back spots as well as special teams. However, that all changed with the ankle injury.
Horn is shown during a spring 2002 practice when he was playing well prior to suffering a preseason injury in August.
Petrino and running backs coach Eddie Gran will try to get Horn up to speed on the tailback assignments for this week's game in Oxford, Miss. "I am going to watch, observe and then do it when I get to practice," Horn says. "I am also going to take film home with me and watch what Ronnie Brown and Tre (Smith) do on all of the plays and I will be able to adapt to them."
After rushing for 1,379 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior at Huntsville High, Horn was considered one of the better high school prospects in the state during the fall of 1998. He signed with Auburn the following February, but did not qualify academically. Instead, he attended Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia where he became an academic qualifier as well as a defensive back who had nine interceptions in the fall of 1999. When he arrived at Auburn the coaches tried him at a variety of positions--whip, rover, inside linebacker and wide receiver before moving him back to running back. He was redshirted in 2000 and in 2001 he spent most of his time on the scout team. He did see game action with 122 yards on 13 carries in a junior varsity game vs. Georgia Military College.
When asked if he has been frustrated, Horn says, "I knew if I continued to work hard I would have a chance to play and that is all I needed," he says. "That is what I have been waiting on all year."
Tiger Ticket Extra: Horn says that he was impressed with what he saw from the Auburn offensive line, which had a very strong performance vs. LSU last Saturday...Horn says that he plans to do extra running on his own to get physically ready in case he is called on to play a lot of snaps vs. Ole Miss.