Mike Horton moving closer to starting job on Auburn football’s offensive line


Auburn football-Auburn Tigers-Auburn-Mike Horton

AUBURN, Ala. — Earlier this week, Herb Hand gave reporters three first-team offensive line looks Auburn football used at practice.

The player in the same position in all three lineups wasn’t All-American candidate Braden Smith. It wasn’t fellow senior Darius James, either. Austin Golson, a returning starter at the all-important center position, also didn’t have that designation.

Instead, Hand’s constant in those three looks was sophomore left guard Mike Horton. Through all the mixing and matching up front, Horton stayed mostly locked into one first-team spot in the second week of what has been a strong camp for the Georgia native.

PRACTICE REPORT:  Jarrett Stidham shines, offense rebounds in 2nd scrimmage

“I think I’m doing pretty well,” Horton said Saturday. “I just try to take it one day at a time. You can’t let anything that happens affect how you perform on the field. If you have a bad day, you have a bad day. You’ve just got to pick it up the next day. I think I’ve been doing pretty well, though.”

According to a source who watched Auburn’s second fall scrimmage, Horton was back at first-team left guard again Saturday. He lined up next to fellow sophomore Prince Tega Wanogho at left tackle, while Golson, Smith and James finished the line from left to right.

That falls right in line with what Hand said earlier this week, as he mentioned Horton early when asked about his “best five.”

“Right now, it would obviously be Braden, it would be Austin, it would be Darius,” Hand said Thursday. “Those guys obviously have a lot of starting experience. Tega has really shown up. Mike  Horton has really done well.”

Auburn football-Mike Horton-Auburn Tigers
Auburn offensive lineman Mike Horton is in line to take over one of the Tigers’ open spots at first-team guard in 2017. (Kenny Moss/Special to SEC Country)

Although Horton doesn’t have a start to his name at Auburn, he’s far from a fresh-faced newcomer. Horton redshirted for the Tigers in 2015 and earned plenty of buzz on the scout team as a top performer. Two years later, that familiarity stands out to Hand.

“Guys like Mike  Horton, Marquel Harrell, Prince Tega, Tyler Carr, Bailey Sharp — those guys have been around,” Hand said. “They’re going into their third year. They’ve taken a lot of reps. Maybe on game days, Saturdays, they haven’t taken a lot of reps. But they’ve taken a lot of reps in practice. And all that experience is cumulative. That’s where you feel good about your depth.”

For Horton, a move to the starting lineup would be the natural next step in his progression.

Horton spent the 2016 season as Auburn’s “sixth man” up front, coming into games when the Tigers used a jumbo offensive package. Under Gus Malzahn, that role has been a great signal for future success as a starter. Smith did it in 2014, and Robert Leff held the spot in 2015 before becoming first-team right tackle in 2016.

“I think being that sixth lineman last year, it helped me to have more confidence in myself,” Horton said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, transitioning and trying to earn that starting job. It’s like I kind of know what to expect now.”

MORE:  Auburn QB depth stands out to Gus Malzahn as all 3 throw TD passes

Horton has the trust of his teammates, especially the ones who followed a similar path to the starting lineup.

“He came in last year on some very big situations [on] third downs,” Smith said earlier this month. “He’s gotten some time at guard. I definitely have full confidence in him.”

Horton said he’s worked at left guard and right guard during fall camp. However, as Hand narrows the field down to the rotation he wants up front, it’s mostly been Horton on the left side as older players shuffle around him.

The ultimate goal of all that movement is finding the optimal starting lineup — and it’s looking more likely by the day that Horton will be part of it this fall.

“I think the sky’s the limit [for the offensive line],” Horton said. “I really do. … We have veterans on the line that have done this before. Right now, we’re just concerned about getting better each day and putting the best five on the field right now.”

The post Mike Horton moving closer to starting job on Auburn football’s offensive line appeared first on SEC Country.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

NFL television ratings slumping in an enormous way in 2017
NFL television ratings slumping in an enormous way in 2017

For two years now, the NFL has downplayed slumping television ratings. However, a recent report indicates that things might be much worse than they’re letting on. NFL ratings are down another 7.5 percent in total viewership for 2017 after taking an 8 percent tumble in 2016, according to Nielsen. Most wrote the 2016 tumble...
What they said: Jim Delaney speaks at Big Ten Basketball Media Day
What they said: Jim Delaney speaks at Big Ten Basketball Media Day

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney spoke to the media at Big Ten Basketball Media Day on Thursday. Here’s what he had to say: The commissioner started off by saying he was happy to be at Madison Square Garden. He then welcomed the new coaches into the league. He also said the conference tournament will be moving back to the midwest in Chicago...
Recruiting rivalry: Tennessee, Alabama go head-to-head for top 2018 recruits
Recruiting rivalry: Tennessee, Alabama go head-to-head for top 2018 recruits

The third Saturday in October meeting between Tennessee and Alabama brings plenty of intrigue to the field, but the recruiting battles can be just as exciting. Tennessee coach Butch Jones’ job security has come into question over the past few weeks, and teams from across the country have begun trying to flip commits from...
Clemson recruiting: How much does Georgia’s resurgence hurt Tigers’ recruiting?
Clemson recruiting: How much does Georgia’s resurgence hurt Tigers’ recruiting?

There’s something in these hills, and Sam Butler and the DieHards team have you covered on the Clemson recruiting trail as the defending national champions reload. Check here every Monday-Friday to stay on top of the latest news, and find every previous edition of the daily recruiting notebooks  ...
TCU ranked No. 1 team in college football by FEI
TCU ranked No. 1 team in college football by FEI

Is No. 4 TCU actually the best team in college football? The rankings and initially eye test would say no, that honor belongs to the Alabama Crimson Tide, per usual. But in an era where advanced metrics paint an increasingly detailed picture, the Horned Frogs have a say in the race for college football’s top spot. In fact...
More Stories