A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Signing Day interviews: Mikel Horton, running back


On what the last few weeks have been like:

You know, just adjusting to everything. Being here straight out of high school, today’s my birthday, just turning 18. So being a young cat with the older guys has been a different thing for me. Having people that are better than me, that are teaching me things, is totally different for me, because I was the man in high school and all that. It’s a very humbling experience when you come here as an early enrollee. I’m having a great time and having the time of my life.


On why he enrolled early:

PT, brotherhood, bondage, all those in one. We came early together. We made a choice to come here together, and we plan on staying all four years, unless, you know, a first-round draft pick happens or something like that. But that’s further in the future. We plan to stay together. This class is strong. Our bondage is strong. Like I said, we look at each other as brothers. We take care of each other. We look after each others’ backs. It’s been a very smooth process coming here early, especially with guys that I knew for a long time.


On if there’s an Ohio movement:

I can’t say it’s an Ohio movement, but a lot of schools can’t sleep on Ohio. Because one commits, they all commit. Ohio’s a small state, so we all know each other pretty well. We’re all going to talk about going to the same colleges and becoming great friends. Recruit a state that’s near you, and it’ll do well for you.


On what he told people who may not have understood why he chose Kentucky:

It’s all about future. Florida State was knocking on my door pretty hard after I committed to Kentucky. I wasn’t changing my mind for any other school. Coach Stoops is one of the most uplifting, responsible-type guys that I look up to. He’s a father figure to us all, so we show respect to him. The coaching staff is just ridiculous. Everyone knows each other. They’ve known each other since they were little, so the bondage is, like—my bondage with my 2014 class is the same type bondage to the coaching staff. We match pretty equal. I chose Kentucky because it felt right. It felt home. It’s not far away from home, but it felt home. Just being—especially with the class, just being with my class, it made my decision very easy.


On if he had any second thoughts when watching Florida State in the national championship game:

No. To be honest with you, I did not. I was very happy for Florida State, because Coach Sunseri is one of my closest friends as far as recruiting, and it was a very hard choice to make because it was either Kentucky or Florida State, and I love both of them. But I chose here. When I watched the national championship game, I was happy for them, but I felt like we could do that, too. Thirty years from now, I want to be on a 30 for 30 on ESPN: Why is Kentucky undefeated and winning national championships in a row so many times, telling my life story. That’s why I chose Kentucky.


On if early playing time was a factor in his decision:

We have a lot of running backs. Playing time, I have no—I’m not even thinking about it right now. I’m thinking about adjusting. Straight out of high school, coming into college, my main focus is school, learning the playbook, working my body and pushing myself to the limit to know I can do this, play in the SEC for three or four years. PT will come if you do the right things, and I’m focusing on the little things so far.


On how thick the playbook is:

I mean, it’s not a child’s book, I’ll tell you that. It’s a lot of papers. If you take the time to focus and play attention to your job, it’s very easy to take down. I’ve got that—I’ve got the playbook locked down a little bit. Hopefully by spring practice, I’m doing it very fluent.


On the biggest difference between a high school and college playbook:

Man, in high school, we ran four plays. Here, it’s different. You’ve got a lot of motions and a lot of stuff you’ve got to adjust to. But it’s all the same game, just a little bit harder.


On how many of those four plays in high school were to him:



On how he can tell players at this level are better despite being here only a few weeks:

I say they’re better in the mental aspect. Because I have a college body. I’m not worried about lifting or speed, because I have those things and I can work on those things. But the mental aspect, the mental toughness, the push through when it’s hard and you can’t no more. Watching that, it’s like, wow. I never had to do that in high school. I lifted, I felt like I was getting better. It’s another step that you can take to even get better. Just watching Jason (Hatcher), Jojo Kemp, Alex Montgomery, Jeff Badet, Braylon Heard, those upperclassmen just—they came in the same way I came in, not knowing. And then a season’s passed, and the animal in them’s become something very special.


On if he ever second-guesses his decision when he wakes up to snow and ice:

Nah, it’s way better than Ohio, I’ll tell you that. Ohio is Alaska, you know. They don’t have school today, I’ll tell you that. It’s very snowy. I’m used to it, so it’s not bad.


On what it is about Vince Marrow that he got so many Ohio guys:

Oh man, Vince is a crazy guy. He’s the type of guy that’ll show up when they’re allowed to come to your house, like—he came to my house, to my visit to my house, and chilled with my grandmother, chilled with my family, talked, played board games. He’s a very interactive person. He tries to be a part of your family as much as possible. He’s a main reason I’m here, and my class, too.


You said board games. Was it Yahtzee?

Yahtzee, yeah. You know. He’s an amazing person, and also coach Chad Scott and Neal Brown, that whole group right there is something special. They definitely influenced me heavily to come here.


On what he thinks the legacy of this class will be when it leaves:

The legacy of this class is, why not? I’m about to continue that. Why not be here? Why not go to the NFL? Why not win a national championship? It’s all dependent on us. It’s not that—nobody’s holding us back from doing it. It’s all mental. We’re going to definitely put in that work for the fans of Kentucky and for ourselves and become something special that no one’s seen here.

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