Horton Hears His Who

Horton Hears His Who

Some may say 'carpe diem', but Jacksonville University football captain Justin Horton would rather just call it what you're expected to do, all the time.

In an offseason coaching change that saw an entirely new staff save alum Waylon Cox, and hefty roster turnover with the departure of 16 All-Pioneer Football League players, there was a need for a student-athlete to step up and be the next vocal charge of the program.

Enter Horton, who was taught and has seen the benefits of giving 100% of his capacity.

"I get my competitive drive and work ethic from my parents. They always told me if I was going to do something, then I had to do it the right way," said Horton, a 6-2, 235-pound athletic beast of an outside linebacker. "I was always pushed to be a student-athlete, have my classwork correct, and to go out, compete, and be the best on the field."

Justin was born in Miami, a place his parents called home since meeting during college at Florida Memorial. His father, Glenn, did not want his two sons growing up in the same environment that he did as a child, so the elder Horton moved his family north to Clermont, where Justin would forge a lifelong friendship and share a blue-collar mentality with another JU success, Andy Jones.

Jones, whose name is dotted all over the Dolphin record books as a wide receiver, is currently on the practice squad with the Dallas Cowboys following his signing as an undrafted free agent.

"We grew up together. Andy was undersized as a freshman in high school but grew so much and worked his tail off. Now he's an NFL receiver and I've been there to see the whole process," said Horton. "He's my best friend, and when he was picked up, I was just as happy as he was because I literally watched him become who he is today.

"He's getting advice from Dez Bryant and those guys, and pushing it down to me on what mentality you should have and what to focus on during the week, how to feel when you train and on game day."

Horton first became interested in football after watching Dan Marino suit up for the Miami Dolphins.

His mother, Judy-Ann, did not want him playing football at his elementary age because his size would place him against much older competition. He eventually began playing at age 10, and in addition to his Pop Warner coaches and Bud O'Hara at East Ridge High School, his father, Glenn, has been a lifelong coach and supporter. 

"I don't claim any success, I don't think I've done anything yet, but I think I'm a respectable person," said the redshirt-senior. "That's my family, the people that put value into my life, and my faith in the Lord."

A member of the JU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, who has already graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology, Horton will head back home at the semester's end to train with longtime strength and speed coach Lo Woods.

He plans to study for the GRE, too, however his hope is to be the next Dolphin to join the pro ranks along with Jones.

"I hope that I can get there with him, I think our moms would be pretty happy."