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By LARRY VAUGHT
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Lakota West coach Larry Cox believes UK fans are going to enjoy running back Mikel Horton, a member of UK’s 2014 recruiting class.
“He had looked at Vanderbilt and Florida State and visited all these schools. I really think Mikel is, for his size and speed, one of the better backs in the area. What impressed them at (the Kentucky) camp in June was his size and speed and his ability to catch the ball. They’re up tempo up there. Now that they’ve seen him catch they think they can do so much more with him,” Cox, who has players starting at Alabama (Ryan Kelly) and Texas (Jordan Hicks), said.
“The one thing about Mikel is that he is very competitive. He wants to be surrounded by people with the same will to win. He hears me talk about surrounding our team with people who help you win. He is finding the right kids (for Kentucky) and steps out and has a role to be with great people.”
The 6-2, 230-pound Horton runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds and Cox believes he can fit nicely into Neal Brown’s spread offense at UK.
“If you look at his size, you’re going to have to give him the ball. When you get a lot of great wide receivers, you’ve got to cover them up. That just gives you the ability to run the ball more,” Cox said Saturday during the Ohio UK Convention. “Once Mikel committed, everyone knew UK was there, and they said, ‘You’re not made for that offense, you’re made for a pro-style offense.’ He heard a lot of the negative messages. But he believed in the message that was given by Stoops and coach Brown.
“I always tell my kids, ‘Don’t buy into a system. But into a school and buy into the people.’ Not that there were bad people at the other schools, but the whole package of what was best for him was UK. If he was concerned and said, ‘Coach, they’re a spread, what do you think?’ then we’d get on the phone with the coaches and say, ‘Talk him through this.’ They would say, ‘We’re not bringing you down here as a little guy to catch those bubble screens. We need a hammer in the backfield.’ They are committed to that run game.”
Horton, like Conner quarterback Drew Barker and Texas receiver T.V. Williams, plans to graduate early and be at UK for the second semester.
“He’s taking summer classes. He will graduate early. He’ll play in the west coast version of the Under Armour All-Star game in January and then fly to Lexington and start school right when he gets there,” Cox said. “He’s always been big about that. He was going to graduate early no matter where he was going. He’ll be there in January.”
Next: Cox on UK offer C.J. Stalker.