Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we discuss the latest with Georgia CB Jaycee Horn.
Horn explains why Alabama is on top for him
ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Jaycee Horn, a major Alabama cornerback target in the Class of 2018, received a in-depth tour of the Atlanta Falcons practice facility back in 2007. His father, former Chiefs, Saints and Falcons wide receiver Joe Horn, who played in the NFL from 1996-2007, was his tour guide. His father showed his son everything players do on a day-to-day basis, from where they eat breakfast in the mornings to the hot and cold tubs they relax in after practice.
That day has stuck with Jaycee to this day.
“His point was just to show me that if I work hard enough, I can get to that level, too,” Horn told SEC Country. “I always think about that when I’m working out or if I get tired or when I’m working on my last reps.”
Horn now has 39 scholarship offers, which include some of the nation’s best programs such as Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Ohio State and many more. But it’s the Crimson Tide who lead for the 3-star cornerback from Alpharetta High School.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound prospect visited Tuscaloosa with his father this past weekend and left with the Tide on top for his services. It wasn’t the first time he’s been to Alabama, but this trip was different.
Horn made sure he attended A-Day because he knew other top recruits were going to be in attendance. When he previously visited the school, he was either the only recruit on campus that day or one of just a handful. Going to the spring game would be a chance to see how the coaching staff acted around him with other top players there. If the coaches showed him attention, he would know that they are serious about wanting him.
“I just felt like they made me feel like I was a priority to them,” Horn said. “Getting to see their DBs in live action, I could see that they struggled a bit. I feel like — knowing they didn’t sign any ’17 cornerbacks — I would have the opportunity to get on the field early and compete for a spot.
“I just felt very wanted there. I got a chance to talk to Coach (Nick) Saban during warm-ups. That was amazing. The whole atmosphere there was just crazy. Talking to Coach Saban really made me feel like I was a priority to them.”
Horn and his father, he said, grew up fans of Alabama. Ask Horn to rattle off former Tide defensive backs he likes and he can do so without hesitation. He’s also aware of the team’s current situation in the secondary. After this season, there are going to be opportunities for a freshman to possibly come in and make an impact.
Tony Brown and Anthony Averett will be gone. Minkah Fitzpatrick is a likely candidate to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, and depending on how he progresses this season, Ronnie Harrison could leave for the league.
That presents a big opportunity for a 2018 defensive back who’s considering the school. Alabama didn’t sign any corners in the Class of 2017 so getting a handful this year is very important to the Tide.
“That’s a huge factor, and probably the biggest factor, for why they lead,” Horn said. “That’s most of their secondary besides Ronnie Harrison and Trevon Diggs. Ronnie could be gone, too, if he has a good year. That’s why I’m trying to work on everything I can and compete. I don’t have to wait for a ’17 corner to get his time because there weren’t any.”
Most of the time, Horn says a lot of schools just tell him what he wants to hear. The next first-round pick. The next All-American. The next difference maker on Day 1. Blah. Blah. Blah. That’s where his father comes in.
Horn’s father committed to South Carolina before enrolling in junior college, but he heard the same messages back in the day, too. His father keeps everything in perspective for him.
“He’s pretty much my best friend,” Horn said. “I text him the most. He just helps keep my head on straight. He helps me dissect the real from the fake in this recruiting. That’s a good thing about having a dad that played in the NFL.”
Horn said whenever his father has an opinion of a school or player, he listens intently. One of the main reasons for that is because of a conversation he had with former Falcons wide receiver Roddy White. White told a young Jaycee how much his father impacted his career.
“Hearing him talk about my dad like that and giving him his props was really cool,” Horn said. “Roddy White told me my dad helped turn his career around. Hearing him say that about my father was really cool. When my dad is telling me something, I make sure that I’m all ears and listen.”
So, when his father says something like the following quote, it should not be taken lightly.
“He thinks it’s the closest thing you’re going to get to the NFL, especially for a DB,” Horn said. “They run an NFL type of defense. They play a lot of man to man. Nick Saban, you can debate on the fact that he’s the best DB coach in the nation right now.”
The Under Armour All-American said Tide defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley is in contact with him every day. If he had to give percentages for which schools would be at the top of his list, Horn said Alabama would be at 100 with South Carolina and Tennessee both at 85 percent.
Those three schools are for sure receiving official visits from him this fall. He’s expecting to visit South Carolina in the coming weeks, Wake Forest in June and Florida State at some point in the next few months. The Seminoles offered him a scholarship on Thursday. He said he has to consider them because “The (greatest of all time, Deion Sanders) played there.”
It’s still going to be tough for any school to leapfrog Alabama. Every time he’s been to Tuscaloosa, he’s thought about ending his recruitment. He doesn’t know exactly when he’ll make a commitment.
“I kind of had a commit feeling inside me when I was there this past weekend, but I try not to make decisions off of emotions,” Horn said. “Every time I have visited Alabama, I have gotten that feeling. I just went back home after the visit and just chilled out. After I got back home and waited a few days, I still feel the same way. That’s why they’re leading for me.”