In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a State Champion lineman who adds depth and talent to the Canes DL: Fairburn (GA) Langston Hughes 3-star DT Joshua Horton.
It is no secret that Miami’s DL has been a strength of the team in recent years. And in an effort to continue that trend, the Canes targeted Fairburn (GA) Langston Hughes DT Joshua Horton for the 2023 recruiting class.
A stout 6’5” 295lbs, Horton has the build, and production, that teams across the country would love to add to their roster. He made a big splash onto the scene as a sophomore during the COVID season of 2020 with 96 tackles, 3 sacks, and 4 QB hurries. 96 tackles from a DT is an insane number, even in HS, but that’s just the kind of talent that Horton has.
With the inability to visit campuses for nearly 2 years, Horton’s recruitment didn’t even pop after that standout sophomore year. So, he followed that up with a stellar junior season, compiling 81 tackles, 3 sacks, and 8 QB hurries for a 13-2 Langston Hughes team that ended the season with a loss in the State Championship game. For his efforts, Horton earned All-Region accolades.
After his junior season, Horton finally started to see movement in his recruitment. Miami (and Florida State, copycats) offered him on January 20, 2022, and things kicked off quickly from there. In the end, 32 teams would offer the talented defender scholarships, so it may have been a wait to get things started for Horton, but the wait seemed well worth it.
Camp and unofficial visits were mixed in with the receipt of all those offers as Horton. He quickly moved to narrow things down, and Official Visits to UCF, Auburn, and North Carolina kept things pushing toward a decision. And that decision came in mid-August when Horton committed to North Carolina.
Following that commitment, Miami got involved. Remember, there was a coaching change, so previous offers may not have been valid. To reinsert themselves into the fray, Miami offered Horton at the end of September. He had previously taken another unofficial visit to Auburn, so the door was open to make a move with the talented defender.
ANOTHER unofficial visit to Auburn was followed up by an unofficial visit to Miami, but the game was definitely afoot. Horton had visited Auburn twice and Miami once since his commitment to North Carolina, but had not returned to Chapel Hill at all. After that, it was just a matter of time.
Horton decommitted from Carolina and flipped to Miami in early December. He then helped Langston Hughes win the first State Championship in School History, posting MASSIVE stats along the way. 123 tackles and 4 sacks. As a defensive tackle. That’s absolutely insane. Horton took his Official Visit to Miami the weekend before the Early Signing Period. All in all, this was a perfect recruitment for Miami, and a job well done by all involved.
On the 247sports composite, Horton is a 3-star prospect, the #54 DL nationally, #51 in the State of Georgia, and #488 player overall in this class.
Horton committed to Miami after flipping his commitment from North Carolina, with Auburn and UCF being the other early finalists from a robust list of 32 offers from around the country.
As A Player
At 6’5” 295lbs, Horton has a game-ready build for a DT right now. Some minor reshaping of his body may take place, but it’s not needed for him to get on the field. He uses his size well and is big-time strong. That strength plays well on the field, as opposing players have a hard time dealing with Horton. In addition to being big and strong, Horton is very athletic. He’s quicker than you’d think, and he’s got bounce to him as well.
As evidenced by his numbers, Horton is very productive. He is a monster against the run, and a capable (or better) pass rusher from the interior of the line. No, he’s not the best pass rusher ever from the DT spot, but he has all the tools to be above average in that usage down the line.
Run defense and vertical penetration are the strengths of Horton’s game. He plays behind the line of scrimmage on a regular basis, and that should continue through his collegiate career as well. To be honest, I think Horton is underrated. A player of his size, athleticism, and proven production in Georgia’s highest HSFB classification should be ranked higher than 488th in the country. IDK if it’s Langston Hughes’s youth as a program — the school only opened in 2009 — or something about Horton that I’m unaware of, but he’s a 4-star talent in my estimation.
Here’s another eval of Horton by 247sports Director of Scouting Andrew Ivins:
Big-framed point-of-attack player that aces the eye test. Measured roughly 6-foot-4, 285 pounds midway through 12th-grade year. More importantly, has long arms and a wingspan that stretches nearly 6-foot-10. Very productive in one of the Peach State’s higher classification, totaling north of 100 tackles as a senior. Has been utilized primarily as a 4i, 3 and 2i in a traditional four-man front. Does a nice job of using a swat/swim move to maneuver his way into the backfield and create negative plays. Can change directions better than most his size and will work laterally down the line of scrimmage to make stops. Understands the value of leverage, but needs to improve overall pad level. Must also get better at snap anticipation if he wants to reach full potential. Should be viewed as a developmental interior defensive line prospect that can offer some value as a pass rusher. Will likely need a few years to get his body right, but has some of the tools required to be a multi-year contributor and possible impact player at the Power Five level.
- Physical strength
- Pass rushing production (good physical tools, but relatively low sack numbers)
- Can add a bit of size/reshape body
Defensive tackle is a hard position to come in and play right away, so expect Horton’s development to take a bit of time. A redshirt year would be good for him to refine his technique and reshape his body before beginning to work his way up the depth chart.
Horton should be a 4 or 5-year player for Miami, with the majority of his on-field impact coming in year 2 or later. But do not take that to be a slight; sometimes it takes a bit for players to be ready for gametime, especially at DT, but putting in the development time early will make the performance when Horton hits the field even better.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.