Jaycee Horn is the son of Joe Horn, a four-time NFL Pro Bowl wide receiver and member of the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame.
Now a senior cornerback at Alpharetta (Ga.), Jaycee Horn is carving out his own path.
On Thursday, Horn was presented with his honorary Under Armour All America Game jersey when theAmerican Family Insurance Selection Tour came to his school.
“It’s really exciting for me,” Horn told USA TODAY. “I grew up watching this game, watching greats like Julio (Jones), A.J. Green, Leonard Fournette. It’s a real honor.”
Especially given his football lineage, it might come as a surprise that Horn’s selection for this game was far from a future reality as recently as last year.
As a ninth- and 10th-grade student in Mississippi, he didn’t even play football, instead playing only basketball.
“I never saw this coming,” he said. “I didn’t play in high school until last year. I was in Mississippi, and the town didn’t have a good program when I was there.”
He’s certainly made up for lost time. In his short time playing high school football, all the 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback with NFL bloodlines did was show out. As a junior in 2016, he made seven interceptions.
Horn’s tenacious play helped earn him a spot as one of the top-25 defensive backs in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
He has not let up thus far this season, as his two interceptions last Friday night helped key Alpharetta in a 34-31 win over Centennial.
“Any time a ball is thrown in his area and he’s in good position, he’s got a shot at it,” Alpharetta coach Jacob Nichols told Alpharetta Patch after the game.
With Horn’s play came a staggering 39 scholarship offers that includes Alabama, South Carolina, Ohio State and others. Late last month, though, he decided on one. Tennessee is the school that has won Horn’s heart.
“It’s a great place,” Horn said of Knoxville. “There are great coaches out there, and all of the coaches I’m close with. There’s a family feel, the facilities are second to none. You can’t go wrong.”
Horn was around 6 or 7 years old the last time he was able to go to his father’s games, as it has been 10 years since Joe Horn played in the NFL. But those memories Jaycee has stand out, and his father continues to impart important lessons in the recruiting process.
“I remember going to some of the games, going to the facilities, just experiencing a lot of things as a kid that most don’t get to,” Horn said. “The best part of it is now he’s playing a big role for me. He gives me a lot of information on how colleges keeping it real in recruiting, and advice on the game. For me, that’s been the best thing about my dad playing in the league.”
While he draws some inspiration from his father, Horn looks up to fellow 6-foot (plus) corners like the Vikings’ Xavier Rhodes and the Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson as players whose style he likes to emulate.
“Peterson can always take away that No. 1 receiver in the game,” he said, “and Rhodes is a big corner who takes away that saying that most big corners should be safeties.”
While Horn said he embraces the challenges presented a cornerback in pass-happy Georgia, the chance to play on a stage with the country’s best will be a prime test.
Look out for Horn in the Under Armour All America Game scheduled for Jan. 4 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando and televised on ESPN2.
“There are some big names in the NFL right now that competed in this All-American game,” he said. “The best thing is competing with other top players.”