Some of the best advice Tyler Horton received growing up came courtesy of his mom, and it has proven to be key in his ability to contribute quickly for the Boise State football team.
“A person should never, ever have to tell you something twice,” Horton said.
When something goes in the sophomore cornerback’s ear, it sticks.
Horton was one of only three true freshmen to play last season for the Broncos thanks to his combination of natural ability, intelligence and size (he’s 5-foot-11, or maybe 6-foot, but we’ll get back to that). He made two starts, had 12 tackles and a pass breakup in 12 games.
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“What really impressed me about him is that he’s a listener. He’s coachable. You can tell him one thing and he gets it,” first-year cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose said. “He doesn’t usually go back to old habits. That’s a unique thing; it’s kind of difficult to find that in a guy.”
Last year in his first fall camp, “all (Horton) did was make plays,” coach Bryan Harsin said, making it a must to play him early. Now in his second, he’s fighting for a starting job. Ambrose said seniors Jonathan Moxey and Ray Ford, along with Horton, are vying for the two spots. Moxey has started 25 games the last two seasons, but Donte Deayon’s graduation has opened up a big void.
As he’s tried to earn a larger role, Horton’s also trying to build his knowledge base.
“Picking up the defensive scheme, not only just learning my part, learning the safeties’ and the linebackers’, knowing why we call a certain call in certain situations,” Horton said.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed on either side of the ball.
“He’s a hard worker, brings it every rep against us,” senior receiver Thomas Sperbeck said. “He’s constantly wanting to know about what it takes to make that next step.”
Moxey, by far the most experienced in the cornerback group, has also noticed a step up for Horton, along with a bit of added confidence.
“He’s doing a great job at learning the playbook, doing a better job at his technique as well. He’s got great ball skills,” Moxey said. “He’s tallest one in the group. He always picks on us because he’s tall. He’s a bright kid, smart on and off the field. I’m proud, glad to see what he’s going to do in the future.”
Wait, the guy who has hardly been a year is picking on everyone? He doesn’t tower above anyone, listed at 5-11 with a few others. But Horton will quietly think he’s the only one that’s 6 feet tall.
“That’s tall here,” said the 5-10 Moxey.
Horton felt well-equipped to play immediately last year, but those things he’s worked on this offseason were immediately reinforced.
“Last year, when he threw me in ... that really taught me you’ve got to prepared at all times,” Horton said.
His head coach trusted him quickly and will hope to see more of that playmaker in games, perhaps to grab his first interception, and many more.
“I’ve been nothing but impressed with him since he showed up here,” Harsin said.
Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420