Jay Norvell’s challenge to CSU Rams’ Tory Horton: Draw NFL draft scouts.

Jay Norvell’s challenge to CSU Rams’ Tory Horton: Draw NFL draft scouts.

August 4, 2023

FORT COLLINS — Oh, sure, Tory Horton got calls from other places. Big places. Deep-pocket places. You don’t think tampering is a thing in this certifiably insane college football world of the present?

Yet when a reporter asked CSU’s star wideout on the first day of Rams preseason camp Friday morning why he stayed put, the senior walked the convo back to three words: Coach Jay Norvell.

“He was the one who gave me a shot and (the chance) out of high school,” the Nevada transfer and Fresno native said. “So I was like, ‘If this man sees that potential me and he put his trust and money on me. I feel like I have to reward him.’

“And I always told myself, ‘I can’t let someone down who has so much trust in me.’ And that’s one person who trusted me (when) I told him, ‘No, you gave me a shot and you won’t regret it.’”

Norvell hasn’t. During a 2022 season that featured a freshman quarterback and a patchwork — to put it kindly — offensive line, an autumn in which everybody knew he was said QB’s No. 1 target, the 6-foot-2 Horton put up an All-Mountain West season anyway: 71 catches, 1,131 receiving yards and eight scores.

As the affable Californian’s third collegiate season gets underway, his college coach set a new bar for Horton to hurdle: To join the ranks of CSU wide receivers who wind up as NFL draft picks.

“This is the challenge,” Norvell said Friday. “He’s (already) an all-conference player. We kind of we categorize players (at different levels): NFL draft picks, all-conference players, guys who have played solid winning football, (and) starters that are inconsistent that need to be replaced or improved.

“And Tory’s an all-conference player that should be a draft pick. I mean, he should be like (ex-CSU star) Trey McBride or (Packers wideout) Romeo Doubs, the guys that play that (are) elite players at (their) position around the country. And he’s got to play dominant now.”

Horton’s all for raising the stakes. The mantra in the CSU receivers’ meetings, now that the room has some numbers behind it again, is “Leave no money.”

Especially on the field.

“So you see a couple people that slacked off (in drills), and I went into the meeting the other day, and I told (them), ‘You know, everything’s free. My position is not free. And now if one of y’all feel like you got to take it, I would want you guys to take it.’ Everybody has to push everybody to their limit.

“I’m looking at it as I got two years (of eligibility) left. So we don’t know yet. I just want to go out there and perform. Just want to win in the most unselfish way. If that’s means (I get) two catches a game and we end up with the win, that’s perfectly fine by me.”

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