Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Horton heading to Auburn
UA’s recruiting coordinator of 5 years joins Malzahn
Tim Horton (right) was hired as Auburn's tight ends coach on Friday after spending six seasons at Arkansas.
FAYETTEVILLE Former Arkansas player and assistant coach Tim Horton has accepted a position on Gus Malzahn’s coaching staff at Auburn.
Horton, 45, had been coaching running backs at his alma mater since 2007 and had been the Razorbacks’ recruiting coordinator since 2008.
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema said he had held numerous conversations with Horton about the potential of remaining on staff, but a deal never came together. Horton was thought to be in the running for spots at Auburn and Texas before deciding to join Malzahn’s staff as tight ends coach.
Horton, who had deep recruiting ties across Arkansas, gives Auburn another tie to the state along with Malzahn, who made his name in the Arkansas high school ranks before helping Auburn win the 2010 BCS national championship and guiding Arkansas State to the 2012 Sun Belt title.
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Horton sent out a Twitter message shortly after Auburn made his hiring official: “Thank you to players, coaches, teammates, media and fans for 10 great years at UA. Proud Arkansan! Thrilled to be going to Auburn! #Go-Hogs”
Malzahn completed his nine-man on-field staff with Horton’s hiring.
“Tim is a true professional and an outstanding coach and recruiter who deserves a lot of credit for Arkansas’ success while he was there,” Malzahn said in an Auburn release. “Tim is a man of character who will be a great complement to our staff and a tremendous representative of the entire Auburn family.”
Auburn’s hiring of Horton was met with mixed emotions from high school recruits in Arkansas.
North Little Rock running back Altee Tenpenny, one of the state’s top prospects who is orally committed to Alabama but plans to make an official visit to Arkansas, said in a text message that he was “upset” by Horton’s departure.
Arkansas commitment Drew Morgan of Greenwood orally committed to Arkansas State when Gus Malzahn was the Red Wolves’ coach before leaving to take the Auburn job. Morgan received his scholarship offer to Arkansas from Horton, but he said Horton’s departure doesn’t affect his commitment to the Razorbacks.
Pulaski Academy tight end Hunter Henry, another Arkansas commitment, had no comment regarding the hiring, according to his father, Mark.
Horton, the son of former Razorback player and assistant coach Harold Horton, was a receiver and punt returner on Arkansas’ Southwest Conference championship teams in 1988 and 1989 and served as a captain on Coach Ken Hatfield’s 1989 team. He is credited with helping hold together a heralded in-state group in the Razorbacks’ 2008 signing class - which included the likes of Jarius Wright, Greg Childs, Chris Gragg, Joe Adams, Dennis Johnson and Tyler Wilson - who formed the nucleus of Arkansas’ run to a 21-5 record in 2010-2011.
Horton also coached four 1,000-yard rushers at Arkansas: Darren McFadden (1,830 yards, 2007), Felix Jones (1,113yards, 2007), Michael Smith (1,072, 2008) and Knile Davis (1,322, 2010).
Richard Davenport of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette contributed to this article.
Sports, Pages 19 on 01/05/2013