By DARIN ALLISON
Ben Horton is on a mission.
The mission involves accomplishing an inward desire to rise to the occasion. Not one that involves knocking on doors in foreign lands, but rather knocking on the door to personal achievement.
Horton, from Lake Elsinore, Calif., has been no stranger to success.
In high school, he lettered in football, baseball, soccer and track. Temescal Canyon High had at their disposal a proficient athlete in football alone: all-CIF, all-county, all-league and all-valley, according to the 1999 BYU Football Media Guide. The list continues for awards in baseball and soccer.
It is also no surprise that football programs with long-standing winning traditions sought Horton’s attention. These football powerhouses included UCLA, Oklahoma, California, Arizona and let’s not forget BYU.
Siding with the Cougs, Horton has experienced a difficult four years. In 1996, Horton was a redshirt and didn’t see much action. He injured his ankle in practice prior to the Cotton Bowl.
In 1997, his freshman year, Horton demonstrated a modest contribution to the team, gaining 163 yards on seven kick-off returns. His average of returns, 23.3 yards, is better than some NFL kick-off returns.
The media guide reveals his 1998 stats, which saw Horton take the field nine times in starting positions for wide receiver. He grabbed 25 passes over the year, totaling 468 yards and two TD’s. The season highlight came in a game verses Arizona State where Horton had a 74-yard reception that doused the Sun Devils.
Last season, Horton played eleven games, pulling down 43 passes for a total of 472 yards. He finished third behind Margin Hooks (1,067 yards) and Jonathan Pittman (478 yards), according to the Mountain West Conference Web site, www.mountainwestconf.com. Horton also dealt with a knee injury last season.
For Ben Horton, the best is yet to come.
“I haven’t felt comfortable until now,” Horton said.
Over the course of the past four years, Horton battled with the pressure to perform by stressing out over every play and worrying about not getting the job done.
“I’d worry about making mistakes and not performing,” he said. “I’m going to erase what has happened in the past and try to perform to my abilities.”
The 2000 schedule for the Cougars has been labeled the toughest yet.
“The biggest challenge will be to stay focused and not get intimidated with these teams,” Horton said.
The wide receiver tied-the-knot last July with former BYU soccer player, Erin Murphy. Horton says the union will help his approach to playing football.
“It’s nice to go home and have someone supporting and motivating me,” he said.
Horton said that his mindset would be different this time around.
“If I can get open every play, catch every ball, I’ll leave the field knowing that I did everything I could,” he said.