Cornerback is one of the youngest positions on the squad with four of the top seven being true freshmen. Despite being only a junior, Antoine Horton has had to assume the role of leader since he is the guy with the most experience.
Antoine claimed a starting cornerback spot in the fourth game of last year and after a strong spring, made it clear he was the leader of this unit. As he explains, he's taken that responsibility seriously. "Every day I try to come out here and lead by example. I want to give 100 %. I don't want my leadership to be all words. I need to show these young guys what's expected of them. If they ask a question, I'm happy to help them. If any of the freshmen ask about coverages, I sit down with them and explain it."
Antoine's starting counterpart is true freshman Cedric Tolbert. Antoine gave his impressions of the youngster. "He's doing a great job out here. He's going to struggle at times, but I told him to always give it 100%. If he makes a mistake but he's giving 100%, he'll still be okay."
When asked about his own strengths, Antoine identified several. "I try to pay attention to detail. That's one of my goals. Also I do whatever coach asks me to do. I also watch film and critique myself, and every day I try and work on my technique."
Speed is very important to any defensive back, but it's even more important to corners since they often have to play man-to-man pass defense. This is an area that Antoine has worked to improve. "I've got my forty time down to 4.45. I had some problem with my legs but now that's over." He'll need that speed since both he and the Bearcats prefer that pressing defense. " I love man-to-man coverage and we play a lot of it. It's my best coverage."
Antoine believes the league switch from C-USA to the Big East means times will get even tougher for the Bearcats. "The Big East is a bigger conference with bigger players, especially on the line. There will be more skill on the field too with faster players. We're going to have to be tough to compete, but we've got a tough team."
We couldn't let Antoine go until he identified UC's toughest receiver. After several seconds of intense deliberation and a few wry smiles, he idenfied Derick Ross. "I'd have to say Smooth (Derick Ross). He knows how to play and sees your weakness."
If the Bearcats are to have a tough pass defense, they'll need Antoine Horton to stay healthy and have a big season.