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Tory Horton's hot start has him in rare company

Justin Michael Avatar
September 27, 2022

Tory Horton has been as good as advertised through the first four games of his Colorado State career. 

While the passing offense has not been able to click consistently — largely due to an inability to protect the quarterback — Horton has been the one guy that has really been able to shine for CSU. 

With 23 catches for 427 yards and five touchdown receptions, the junior wide receiver has essentially been a one-man highlight for CSU. And as disappointing as the outcomes of the games have been, Horton’s big plays downfield have provided a glimpse of what the Air Raid can be when things go right. 

Tory Horton catches a pass for a touchdown against Sacramento State during the fourth quarter at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo. on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

According to the staff, what makes Horton such a lethal receiver is his attention to detail. He’s constantly working on improving his route running, getting with the coaches in the film room, and just putting in the extra time necessary to be great. Horton got to see firsthand what putting in the work did for his former Nevada teammate and current Packers WR Romeo Doubs, and it’s a mentality that he’s embraced himself. 

In addition to being meticulous with his craft, it clearly also helps that Horton is a freak athlete. He’s not exactly the most physically imposing individual visually. When defensive backs get to the line of scrimmage they are not going to be overwhelmed by his size or anything like that.

Much like Rashard Higgins back in the day though, Horton doesn’t need to play bully ball because he has tremendous body control, hands like glue, and is able to eat up a ton of ground with his long strides in the open field. It’s a big reason why his 18.6 yards per reception leads all FBS receivers with 20 or more catches this season. 

Speaking of Higgins, I was curious how Horton’s hot start compared to Hollywood’s first four games in 2014, when he was named a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, and while Higgins did have five more catches, Horton has a slight advantage in yards and touchdowns at this stage of the year. 

For more perspective, Horton also has less grabs than Michael Gallup did through four games in 2016 or Trey McBride in 2021, but again, he has more receiving yards and touchdowns than both. 

Stats through 4 games: 

Tory Horton (2022) | 23 catches, 427 yards, 5 TD

Rashard Higgins (2014) |  28 catches, 404 yards, 4 TD 

Michael Gallup (2016) | 31 catches, 390 yards, 1 TD

Trey McBride (2021) | 36 catches, 398 yards, 1 TD

We’ll see if Horton is able to keep up this blistering pace, and if he does we’ll see what type of individual accolades that he receives. The unfortunate truth is that a lack of team success may prevent guys like Horton, Jack Howell, etc, from getting their proper praise and respect nationally. 

What should be encouraging for the fans though is that having Horton be part of this rebuilding process is great because he can be an example for the talented young receivers moving forward. Guys like Justus Ross-Simmons, Louis Brown and Mekhi Fox can learn under him, just like Horton learned from Doubs. 

When CSU earned the nickname “Wide Receiver U”, having great position coaches like Alvis Whitted and then Joe Cox definitely played a big factor. The other big key was that you constantly had a cycle of young receivers learning from veterans though. Joe Hansley and Rashard Higgins showed Bisi Johnson the ropes. Michael Gallup was an example for Warren Jackson. Having that veteran presence can go a really long way — even if it’s just as simple as being a role model for the standard of work necessary to be great. 

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