Size: 6-2, 240
Year: Junior (1 year letterman)
High School: Garland High School (Tex.)
Hometown: Garland, Tex.
Rated as two-star linebacker by Scout.com, Horton’s recruitment came down to UTSA and SMU. In the end, the Mustangs won the services of the Garland product because of two things: their scheme and their academics. UTSA wanted Horton to play defensive end, while the linebacker felt more comfortable playing outside linebacker on the Hilltop. Horton missed most of his senior high school season because of an injury, but as a junior he had 53 tackles and five sacks.
After playing in just two games as a freshman, Horton saw a nice jump in playing time, taking the field in six games and starting one in 2014. The rising junior had 11 tackles as a sophomore and had four against TCU. Despite the improvement, it’s fair to say expectation for Horton were not met in 2014. I would’ve like to have seen Horton get more playing time considering the season the Mustangs had last year.
While 2015 should bring an entirely new SMU team, it should also bring an entirely new Nick Horton. Despite sitting out some practice this spring with a few bumps and bruises, I don’t think there’s any question Horton has benefitted immensely from the new strength and conditioning program. Just from the few practices we saw, there’s no question Horton played at a quicker pace. Even out of high school Horton did a nice job of filling the gaps when he needed to, but with his added strength, we saw a much more aggressive and physical Nick Horton.
Outlook in 2015
Dave Campbell’s has Horton listed at No. 2 on the linebacker depth chart behind Anthony Rhone. I do like Rhone, but Rhone is slotted at Star. Horton has the physical make up right now to be a force at linebacker for SMU and showed it in the spring. Robert Seals and Jonathan Yenga will also compete for time at the linebacker spot, but Seals has yet to tap into his full potential. With the added weight, pass coverage is always a concern, but I think Horton’s overall quickness and athleticism will allow him to turn some heads this season. Horton’s added weight makes him a perfect fit for Malone’s new scheme.