The first time Luke Wolf saw Tyler Horn, the future Boise State defensive end was 6-foot-5 and about 180 pounds.
“Just all elbows and knees and joints,” said Wolf, who was the defensive line coach at Mountain View High in Meridian when Horn transferred in as a junior in 2008. “Just awkward. The best way to describe him when I saw him was a newborn colt.”
The first time Justin Wilcox saw Horn, he burst past an offensive tackle from California at the Broncos’ high school camp in the summer of 2009. That was Wilcox’s last year as Boise State’s defensive coordinator and the summer before Horn’s senior year of high school.
“Who is that?” Wilcox asked Wolf.
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Six and a half years later, Horn will jog onto the blue turf of Albertsons Stadium on Friday night — likely for the last time as a Bronco — and 28,000-plus fans will know his name.
Horn (now 268 pounds), like so many Idahoans before him, developed a stellar reputation within the Broncos’ program for his work ethic, consistency and unselfishness — traits that don’t appear on the stat sheet but have defined his career.
That’s a guy that you would imagine as a Boise State, blue-collar type of guy.
TANNER VALLEJO, Boise State junior linebacker
Horn signed in February 2010, grayshirted the 2010 season, joined the program in January 2011, played end to add depth as a true freshman in 2011, moved to tackle because of injuries in 2012, started six games at tackle in 2013 and emerged as one of the team’s best defensive players in fall camp in 2014.
A season-ending injury in the first game delayed his senior season to 2015, when he has started every game and only missed a practice when coaches insisted he take a break during the bye week.
Horn is eighth on the team with 32 tackles, including 4.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. He has an interception and two fumble recoveries, twice getting close to the end zone on a return.
“We ask a lot of him,” defensive line coach Steve Caldwell said. “He’s been a good leader. He’s pushed through a lot of injuries this year and practiced banged up the whole time because it means so much to him. This school being in his hometown, it’s something special for him so he has been bound and determined to play well and push through anything he had to to make sure he was on the field.”
Horn developed his love for football after his family moved to Boise from Southern California when he was in sixth grade. His career began at West Junior High, where he helped the school win a city championship and played his first game on the blue turf.
Before that, he had played basketball — the sport his dad played in college and his older brother played at Borah High. But Horn’s style on the court was too physical; he committed many fouls while trying to block shots and rebound.
I liked how you could just hit people (in football),” Horn said. “Once you sack the quarterback the first time, I just kind of fell in love with that.
His parents moved to Meridian but he delayed his transfer to Mountain View so he could play basketball with his brother at Borah. Horn moved to Mountain View for his junior year, where he connected with Wolf — the coach he says was the biggest influence on him.
When the Broncos showed an interest in Horn after his junior year, Wolf said, he became driven to earn a chance at major college football. Horn was the defensive line MVP in that 2009 camp.
“He didn’t want to let that go,” Wolf said. “He wanted to do everything he could to match that (interest). Right off the bat, his senior year, with the improvements he made ... he demanded attention when he walked on that field.”
Horn recorded 14 sacks during his senior season and was named to the All-Idaho first team. Two of those sacks came in a game attended by former Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who eventually offered Horn a scholarship.
“I said yes right away,” Horn said. “I didn’t even have to think about other schools. ... Since I started playing football here in the Treasure Valley, Boise State is kind of ‘it’ as far as football.”
Much of Horn’s career involved sacrifice. He prefers end but played tackle for about two years. He lost what should have been his senior season to a broken leg.
So he has made a point of enjoying every day of 2015 — and has appreciated the chance to play end exclusively.
“The sacrifices we have to make and the work that we have to put in and all the discipline we have to have, it’s going to make whatever I do after this easy because we have to be so disciplined here,” said Horn, who plans to train for pro football before using his communications degree. “If you do it right and you put in the work, you see results. Hopefully that correlates to whatever I do next.”
Horn’s ability to overcome injuries, the position switch and coaching changes (he played for three line coaches) impressed Wolf, who still talks to him weekly.
“He’s just that workhorse,” Wolf said. “He’s not going to say anything. He’s just going to bring it every day. When he gets a little older and matures and reflects, he’s going to be pretty damn proud of himself — as he should be, because we’re damn proud of him.”
Senior Day at albertsons stadium
Boise State will salute 20 seniors before the Air Force game Friday night at Albertsons Stadium (introductions begin 25 minutes before kickoff):
- DT Robert Ash, Elk Grove, Calif.
- CB Donte Deayon, Rialto, Calif.
- OL Jerhen Ertel, Bagdad, Ariz.
- RB Jack Fields, El Paso, Texas
- LB Tyler Gray, Templeton, Calif.
- TE Jake Hardee, Bishop Kelly HS
- OL Marcus Henry, Bellevue, Wash.
- DE Tyler Horn, Mountain View HS
- TE Holden Huff, Rocklin, Calif.
- WR Terrell Johnson, Montgomery, Ala.
- LS Kevin Keane, Moorpark, Calif.
- DB Mercy Maston, Bakersfield, Calif.
- DT Tutulupeatau Mataele, West Valley City, Utah
- DE Rondell McNair, New Bern, N.C.
- DT Armand Nance, Houston
- OT Rees Odhiambo, Mansfield, Texas
- DT Justin Taimatuia, American Samoa
- S Darian Thompson, Lancaster, Calif.
- WR Shane Williams-Rhodes, Spring, Texas
- RB Kelsey Young, Norco, Calif.
Air Force at Boise State
▪ When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
▪ Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), Boise
▪ TV: ESPN2 (Jason Benetti, Mike Bellotti, Allison Williams)
▪ Radio: KBOI (670 AM), KTIK (93.1 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender
▪ Records: Boise State is 7-3 overall, 4-2 Mountain West; Air Force is 7-3, 5-1
▪ Series: Boise State leads 2-1 (Falcons won 28-14 in 2014 in Colorado Springs)
▪ Coaches: Boise State, Bryan Harsin (19-5, second year; 26-10, third year overall); Air Force, Troy Calhoun (66-47, ninth year)
▪ Vegas line: Boise State by 11
▪ Kickoff weather: Low 30s (high 20s wind chill), with no precipitation and 70 percent humidity.