Shane Horton Focused on Future

Fox Sports/Scout.com's Whitney Blaine caught up with USC senior Shane Horton as he prepares to leave the university and focus solely on football.

Q: Hey Shane, thanks for taking the time. The NFL draft looms in April. What are you doing to prepare right now?
A: I started training now with my dad. My dad is a personal trainer so kind of get in these intermediate lifts in now, after taking about a week or two off. I'm doing that now and going through the whole agent process, meeting with a few guys. But training-wise, I'm going to train at school and then train with my dad too, and then another guy. So I've got a good little workout schedule planned, so now it's just [about] finding the right agent and getting this training going, around the first of January.

Q: What agents are you talking to or have any of your teammates steered you toward one agent or another?
A: I've only met with one guy so far and I have a few interviews coming up, in the next two weeks. With the Holidays, I was just waiting for a good time. So within the next two weeks I want to be able to have one and get this thing rolling. Another thing that is a little different is that I'm training to play at safety. So I'm cutting a little weight, I want to get my speed up, so that's what I'm going to be concentrating a lot on going into this whole training experience.

Q: Wow that should definitely give you more versatility. Why did you decide to do that, and did someone point you in that direction?
A: It's just the position I want to play. The position I came [to USC] to play and it's my natural position. I feel like my natural body weight and physically I'm more of a safety. I feel comfortable around that weight, between 205 all the way up to 215. At linebacker I was getting up to 220 and it was a little, I want to say uncomfortable, but it wasn't my natural weight. And safety is the position I love to play, it's the position I played in high school, it's what I always watch. It's just natural for me. So if I'm going to give this [NFL] thing a shot, I want to do it at the position I want to [play] at, the body weight I want to do it at, and my most comfortable form.

Q: Yeah I think I remember saying you played safety at UNLV and obviously dropping weight will make you faster at that spot but Shane I'm sure you've heard about Matt Barkley. What are your thoughts on him coming back?
A: It's awesome. I think it's awesome that him and T.J. decided to come back and, like they said, finish the job. This team was really unique because we went through the change with Coach Carroll and Coach Kiffin and we had that 8-5 season and ended up 10-2 this year. We're on the way up. We're getting 'SC back to where we used to be and where we want to go. And Coach Kiff and that staff has done a great job doing it and for those guys to leave now, based on --well everybody has different circumstances -- but to have two, offensive and defensive, captains to come back like that, it shows their true character and how great of guys those [two] are. And I have full confidence in them that they have every ability to [be successful]. Now they just have to go out and do it.

Q: Yup and I'll be out at practice everyday watching, including watching your brother, Wes. But tell me about the draft. Have you talked to any scouts or experts as far as early predictions on your stock?
A: Not so much. These last two weeks, with the Holidays, I've kind of been relaxing and letting my body heal up and doing my intermediate training stuff with my dad. I haven't gotten into that, that's more stuff I'll get into this week and the next. But I'm going to get my body in the best shape that I can to perform the best that I can on Pro Day or Combine or whatever it is. I want to get in the best physical, and mental, too, shape that I can. If I'm going to be playing a new position I got to get in the film room and get all my safety stuff [down]. It's good because I have prior knowledge of it. I played it at UNLV and I played it my first year at USC. I feel like being versatile, playing linebacker and other positions, is not going to do anything but help me going into this next phase.

Q: Have you talked to any former Trojans that were safeties in college and are now in the NFL, like a Taylor Mays or Troy Polamalu?
A: I talk to Kevin Ellison quite often. He's one of the best safeties to ever come out of USC and he had his shot in the league and went through his deal but he's been a mentor since I got to 'SC. We were neighbors when I moved out of the dorms and he actually gave me the majority of my knowledge at safety. He's one of the reasons why I wanted to keep playing the position because he was so good at it and he shared so much with me. He made me appreciate the game at safety a lot more, just learning from him so I feel like that's where I get the majority of why I want to go back to playing safety. I feel like it's so natural.

Q: What's one piece of advice you learned from both coaching staffs at USC?
A: One thing that was great about [Kiffin's] staff is they came in and the majority of the staff came in from the NFL so a lot of us got a glimpse as to what the NFL is like, how it's more of a business. With Coach Carroll we saw more of a charismatic, fun side, where there's a lot of energy. Both sides have their pros and cons but it's a complete 180 when the new coaching staff came in. It was more serious, and always about business. I feel like it's a good transition going into my next phase. I feel like these last two years are going to be very similar to what these next few years are going to be like, coming from an NFL system.

Q: Right. I remember talking to a few players who said that the talent at USC is so elite that it wasn't as big a transition as they thought. Obviously the speed is faster but the talent helped prepare them. Do you feel similarly?
A: Definitely. I've heard that from a few guys. That's one thing that is really special about USC. The best players from around the nation go to 'SC to compete against the best players. These last three years I've been competing for a spot, whether it's been between Malcolm [Smith], or Hayes [Pullard] so I feel like it's going to be a good transition going into the NFL. Of course speed is going to be different, I don't know how much of a transition it's going to be but I think I'll be ready for it. That's what this whole training thing is about. I'll never forget from Coach Carroll his [theory] behind competing everyday. It's never taking a day off, it's trying to beat the guy that's next to you or in front of you or not letting the guy behind you pass you. So I learned a lot these last few years. It's been a great experience. I'm ready to move on to the next phase. Ready to do the big stuff.


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