Horne continues to grind on field to prove himself


Justin Brown

Redshirt junior Nick Horne has recorded 44 tackles, three sacks for 15-yards and two interceptions through seven games of the 2016 season.

Maria Baldwin, Feature Writer

The challenges that come with transferring to a different school can make it easy for athletes to feel overwhelmed and a bit lost.

It can be even harder to walk-on to a team when none of the coaches know what kind of player you are.

For redshirt junior Nick Horne, it took a year to prove to the Eastern coaches that he belongs on the field on Saturdays.

“Starting on the field as a walk-on was big for me because nobody really knew me,” Horne said. “It was hard getting on the team at first, I didn’t get on until week four or week five of the season last year.”

Prior to arriving at Eastern, the coaches had not seen any of Horne’s film; they had to wait to see what he could do on the field after giving him the chance to be a part of the team.

“The coaches didn’t know my talent,” Horne said. “That was what was hard to overcome, because this is a Division I program. When you’re trying to play a big role in their program and they don’t know you, it’s hard. But I overcame it, and now I’m a scholarship player and I start.”

While it was not easy to prove himself, Horne denotes his work ethic and determination to helping him get to the level he is at today. He said he continues to challenge himself on the field everyday.

This season Horne has made the switch from safety to linebacker look effortless.

Horne has racked up 44 tackles, seven for a loss. He has three total sacks, one forced fumble and two interceptions totaling 48 return yards.

Horne’s season high eight tackles came in Eastern’s loss at Southeast Missouri. Last week, in the Panthers win at Tennessee Tech, he stopped a late game play-action from the Golden Eagles on fourth down to solidify the win for Eastern with 36 seconds left in the game.

Horne started the last two regular season games for Eastern last season, filling in for now Philadelphia Eagles linebacker, Kamu Grugier-Hill. In those two games, Horne made eight tackles, one for a loss and a half sack. In the game he played against Eastern Kentucky, Horne recovered a fumble and ran it in for a 62-yard touchdown, the fourth longest fumble return in school history. Horne finished his first season at EIU with 34 tackles, and 7.5 tackles for a loss.

“I want people to know mostly how much I care about being successful,” Horne said. “I hate losing with a passion. I give my all with everything I do. Last year, I didn’t play much but when I did I gave my all and everything I had.”

With the help of a close friend and Eastern’s central location, Horne said the decision to attend Eastern was a quick one.

“I had a friend who already came here, (redshirt junior) Malcolm Miller, and he was telling me that there is great opportunity for me here,” Horne said. “I also decided that I wanted to be closer to home. I was at Minnesota and transferred here as a walk-on. I mostly wanted to come here because Malcolm is my best friend in the entire world.”

With the help of the Eastern coaching staff Horne continues to work every day at practice to prove he belongs, adding the switch from safety to linebacker Horne said he still has a lot to learn.

“I learn the game a lot better than other people do,” he said. “I study things that a lot of player’s overlook and I put a lot of time into football.”

Horne said he wants to leave Eastern remembered as the person who always put the time in, every day, and loved to win as much as he loved the game he played.

“I want to be considered a leader and considered consistent,” Horne said. “Every game, I want people to remember that I didn’t fall back, I want to be consistent through the whole season.”

The Eastern football team takes on Murray State for Homecoming game with kickoff set for 1 p.m.

Maria Baldwin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]