Oakland’s Isaiah Horton unveiled his top-six last week and the Vols are in good position.
Tennessee, along with Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss comprise the SEC-only list for the wide receiver as the 6-foot-3, 185-pound athlete ranks as the state’s seventh-best prospect.
“The coaching staffs for those programs are why they made my cut,” Horton told Volquest. “With everything going on right now regarding OCVID, it’s been hard to build relationships. Those schools have tried the hardest and I appreciate that.
“I’ve known the Tennessee coaching staff since I was in eighth grade. It seems like they really care about me and that really shows through their actions. That’s what I look at. Actions speak louder than words and they have backed up what they’ve said.”
The four-star is a Rivals Top-200 prospect and is ranked as the 20th-best receiver in the 2022 class. The Oakland standout is in contact with either Jeremy Pruitt or Tee Martin on nearly a daily basis.
“I really like the team’s work ethic. Everything didn’t go their way, but no one was giving up,” Horton said of the Vols. “I liked how the guys who didn’t play a lot on Saturdays would sometimes be scrimmaging on Sundays. Coach Pruitt has them working – trying to figure out what is going on.
“They are determined to be great and I want to be a part of a program where we are on that same page.”
The Vols may have a slight advantage right now.
Tennessee is not only the state school, but it currently rosters two former teammates of Horton. Before transferring to Oakland, the wide receiver was teammates with Keyshawn Lawrence and Tyler Barron at Ensworth.
Horton noted that it won’t factor into the overall decision, as he wants to attend a school ‘for him,’ but it does add a level of comfort when analyzing the Vols.
“I have good relationships with those guys and ask them a lot of questions about UT,” Horton said of Lawrence and Barron. “Everything they have told me has been good and that’s good to hear. Since I can’t go on visits right now, I have to ask people who are there and it’s all been very positive.”
The four-star hopes to make a decision before his senior season.
Isaiah Horton: “I don’t know much about him right now, but I’ve seen what he’s done passing the football and heard about that. Those are great attributes to me and gave me a great feeling about him. I don’t know much about him now but plan on building a bond and connection with him to get on the right path.”
“We had a great talk. It was all positive,” Horton told Volquest. “He said a lot of great things during the call like trying to build up relationships within the team. Seeing a lot of the current players tweet out positive stuff after their first meeting with him, it was impressive.”
“He loves to throw the football. We all know that’s in his past,” Horton continued. “He said he wanted to keep that going here, but he needs to some athletic and quick receivers like me to do so. I think we are on the same page there.”
Heupel made it a point to share his goal of keeping in-state talent at home.
“He told me how important we are,” Horton said of his in-state class. “He was explaining how important it is to stay at home and represent our state. I honestly would like to play for a coach like him with his history.
“Tennessee is also not too far from home and we talked about that.”
“I was surprised to hear from him so early,” Horton said of the Wednesday evening conversation. “It shows how high of a priority we are. It meant a lot that he was thinking about me that early on. He could have been doing a bunch of other things but made me a priority instead.”
It’s nothing new for Tennessee to be showing Isaiah Horton plenty of attention. He was one of the Vols’ top in-state targets under former coach Jeremy Pruitt’s staff, talking with them on a regular basis, and that hasn’t changed since new Tennessee coach Josh Heupel’s hiring more than two weeks ago.
But the four-star Class of 2022 wide receiver from Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., said he has been impressed by his early communication with Heupel, who first spoke with Horton during his first day on the job. Horton said Heupel has “made me feel like a priority” since then by reaching out to him “probably, like, three times a week.”
“He was just (saying that) keeping this in-state class is important to him, just to start a whole new slate — new coach, new everything,” said Horton,
“His system, everybody gets to touch the ball. It’s not just, like, a QB-and-receiver show or just a running-back show. It’s an everybody show. Everybody gets to touch the ball. Everybody gets to show off the hard work and everything that they’ve worked for.”