SEC veteran Tim Horton, who helped the Tigers to a 2013 SEC Championship and a BCS Championship berth this season, is in his first season as running backs coach at Auburn, where the Tigers led the nation with 335.7 yards rushing per game. He also tutored the kickoff and punt returners.
Junior Tre Mason, a Heisman Trophy finalist and SEC Player of the Year, ranks third in the nation with 22 touchdowns, is sixth nationally with 1,621 yards rushing, sixth with 10.6 points per game, eighth with 164.38 all-purpose yards per game and ninth with 124.7 rushing yards per game.
Mason set the Auburn single-season record with 2,137 all-purpose yards, is second with 283 rushing attempts and thid with 1,621 yards. His 46 rushing attempts and 304 rushing yards vs. No. 5 Missouri set SEC Championship Game records and was three yards shy of the Auburn record. Mason is the fifth 1,000-yard rusher he has coached since 2007 and the second Heisman finalist.
The Tigers had two kickoff returns for touchdowns, a punt return for a TD and one of the biggest plays, if not the biggest, in Auburn Football history, a missed 57-yard field goal return for 109 yards (100 yards statistically) by Chris Davis on the last play of the game to defeat #1 Alabama 34-28 to win the SEC Western Division Championship. In the win at Tennessee, Davis had an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown and Corey Grant had a 90-yard kickoff return for a TD. Tre Mason notched a 100-yard kickoff return in the season opener vs. Washington State.
Auburn led the SEC in kick return yards (866) and punt returns (29) and was second in punt return average (11.8) and punt return yards (341). In the national rankings, the Tigers ranked 17th in kickoff return avg. (24.06) and 23rd in punt return avg. (11.76). Chris Davis led the SEC and was ranked second nationally with 20.1 yards per punt return.
Auburn is tied for the biggest turnaround in college football history in NCAA records at +8.5 games.
Prior to Auburn, Horton spent six successful seasons in a similar capacity at Arkansas, where he was also recruiting coordinator.
"Tim is a true professional and an outstanding coach and recruiter, who deserves a lot of credit for Arkansas' success while he was there," Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. "Tim is a man of character who is a great complement to our staff and a tremendous representative of the entire Auburn Family."
A 24-year coaching veteran, Horton was recognized by Rivals.com and ESPN.com as one of the nation's top recruiters during his tenure at Arkansas and was one of just two coaches in the nation, and the only one in the SEC, to coach four different 1,000-yard rushers from 2007-10. Under his watch, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones earned All-America honors, while Dennis Johnson and Knile Davis earned All-SEC honors.
Horton's first class as Arkansas' recruiting coordinator in 2008 featured wide receivers Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs, all selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. With their selections, Arkansas tied a draft record with three receivers taken in the same draft. During his six years at Arkansas, Horton coached two of the top four single-season rushing performances and more than a third of the 10 Razorbacks in school history to rush for more than 1,000 yards.
In 2011, Horton helped the Razorbacks tie a school record with 11 wins and, combined with a 10-win season in 2010, marked just the third time in school history the Razorbacks reached double-digit win totals in back-to-back seasons. Arkansas led the SEC in total offense in 2011, averaging 438.1 yards per game, for the second time in the previous three seasons, and topped the SEC in scoring offense (36.8 ppg) in 2011. All-SEC performer Dennis Johnson's 6.3 yards-per-carry average was second among the SEC's top-10 rushers.
Under Horton's tutelage, Davis posted the fourth-highest single-season rushing total in Arkansas history in 2010 as he ran for 1,322 yards and became just the 10th Razorback to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in a season. Davis was named a first-team All-SEC performer and led all SEC running backs (101.7 ypg) and finished with five consecutive 100-yard rushing games.
Horton, who played football at Arkansas from 1986-89, returned to his alma mater in 2007, where he coached McFadden and Jones to All-America honors. McFadden was the Heisman Trophy runner-up and won the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back. McFadden finished the 2007 season with a school-record 1,830 yards and 16 touchdowns.
He came to Arkansas after taking the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coaching position at Air Force in January 2007. During the 2006 season, he was the running backs coach at Kansas State, helping the Wildcats earn a Texas Bowl appearance. At KSU, Horton coached future NFL running backs Thomas Clayton and James Johnson.
He was at Air Force from 1999-2005, serving as the wide receivers coach from 1999-2004 and the running backs coach in 2005. Horton was recognized by the Colorado Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes as one of its coaches of the year in 2004.
Horton began his coaching career at Appalachian State in 1990 and helped guide the Mountaineers to a 67-32 record during his eight years, including Southern Conference championships in 1991 and 1995 and five appearances in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs. The 1995 Mountaineers were the first Div. I team to go undefeated in North Carolina college football history.
From 1990-92, Horton coached Appalachian State's receivers and tight ends before taking over as the Mountaineers' running backs coach in 1993. He also served as the program's recruiting coordinator.
Horton earned his bachelor's degree in marketing management from Arkansas in 1990. While at Arkansas, he was a four-year letterman and three-year starter as a split end and punt returner under head coach Ken Hatfield. He caught 49 passes for 942 yards and one touchdown in his career, hauling in 23 catches for 453 yards as a senior in 1989. Horton also returned 78 punts for 657 yards in his collegiate career, fifth all-time in school history.
Horton's four years at Arkansas proved to be among the most successful in school history as the Razorbacks compiled a 38-11 record, won back-to-back Southwest Conference titles in 1988 and 1989 and appeared in four straight bowl games, still tied for the school record for the most wins in a four-year period.
A two-time academic all-conference selection, Horton was a second-team All-Southwest Conference selection in 1989 and served as the Razorbacks' team captain that season. In high school, Horton was a two-time all-state running back and a track standout at Conway (Ark.) High School.
Horton and his wife Lauren, who earned a bachelor's degree in early childhood education from Arkansas, have one daughter, Caroline, and one son, Jackson.