Horton announces retirement
SAN DIEGO — San Diego State Football Associate Head Coach Jeff Horton announced his resignation on Tuesday. Horton, who was also the team’s offensive coordinator last year and coaches the Aztec running backs, has spent the last 12 seasons at SDSU.
During his career, Horton coached for 43 years, including 35 seasons in the collegiate ranks, including seven seasons as a head coach, four years in the NFL, and an additional four years of high school ball.
“[Retirement]is something I’ve thought about for a long time,” Horton said. “I’ve always said I wanted my retirement to be my choice. In this job, 99 percent of the time, you’re not allowed to go on your terms, and I have to do that. I wanted to leave the party when I did. I still have a lot of fun and I do. I look forward to spending more time with my wife and family in the next chapter of my life.”
“The world of football will miss a man like him Jeff Horton in what he brought every day to the young men he coaches,” said the San Diego State head coach BradyHoke said. “The State of San Diego owes Jeff a debt of gratitude for all he has done here. I couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to work with Jeff and we wish Jeff and his wife Teri a happy retirement.”
After serving as the team’s offensive coordinator from 2015-19, Horton became SDSU’s OC again in early October, with the team averaging just 19.0 points, 258.2 total yards, and 65.6 passing yards per game. In the last eight games with Horton as offensive coordinator, San Diego State averaged 23.0 points, 366.6 total yards and 254.0 passing yards per game.
In Horton’s 12 years on The Mesa, the Aztecs were Bowl-qualified all 12 seasons, made a bowl game in 11, and won three Mountain West titles.
Horton coached his beginning running backs to All-MW honors in 11 of his 12 years at SDSU, including Super Bowl champion Ronnie Hillman (2011), Adam Muema (2012-13), the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher Donnel Pumphrey (2014-16), Rashaad Penny (2017), San Diego State’s leading rusher (2017), Juwan Washington (2018) and Greg Bell (2020-21).
In 2016, Horton was named FootballScoop Running Backs Coach of the Year when the Aztecs became the first team in NCAA FBS history to produce a 2,000-yard rusher (pumphrey) and a 1,000-yard rusher (penny) in the same season. SDSU set single-season records in rushing yards (3,680), rushing touchdowns (34), rushing yards per carry (5.8), and points (493) in the Division I era.
Horton coached Pumphrey to one of the best rushing careers in FBS history. Pumphrey, a Heisman nominee, Doak Walker Award finalist, and three-time All-American, finished as a career NCAA FBS career record-holder in rushing yards (6,405) and finished fifth in all-purpose yards (7,515), tied eighth in total touchdowns (67) and ninth in rushing touchdowns (62). He was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Under Horton’s tutelage in 2017, Penny completed his stellar senior campaign by becoming only the third consensus All-American in program history while finishing fifth in Heisman Trophy voting, the highest finish by an Aztec since Marshall Faulk finished fourth in 1993. Penny recorded the fifth-best single-season rushing total in NCAA FBS history with a school record of 2,248 yards and finished with a career average of 7.49 yards per carry, the third-highest total among FBS schools since 1996.
Horton also had Hillman earn All-America recognition from the Associated Press in 2011 after the Aztec running back rushed for a then-conference record 1,711 yards that ranked fourth nationally and added 19 touchdowns. Hillman, who was one of 10 semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award that season, was selected in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos in April 2012.
Horton joined The Mesa after spending the final five games of the 2010 season as an interim head coach at Minnesota. With Horton at the helm, the Gophers went 2-3 with victories over two bowl-bound teams in Illinois and Iowa after starting the year at a 1-6 mark.
Before his time in Minnesota, he was the quarterbacks coach for the Detroit Lions in 2009 and worked with Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 overall draft pick. Horton began his NFL career with the St. Louis Rams from 2006 to 2008, where he served as an assistant offensive line coach, special assistant to the head coach, and offensive assistant.
Before joining the NFL ranks, Horton served on the touchline in six bowl games as quarterbacks coach in Wisconsin from 1999-2005. The Badgers had four postseason wins, including a 17-9 win over Stanford in the 2000 Rose Bowl after winning the Big Ten championship.
A native of Arlington, Texas, Horton was UNLV’s head coach for five years from 1994-1998. In 1994, he was named Big West Coach of the Year after leading the Rebels to the conference title and a place in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Before becoming the head coach at UNLV, Horton recorded a 7-4 record in his first season as head coach in 1993 in Nevada. The Wolf Pack led the nation in offense this season, including 4,373 passing yards.
Horton also spent six years as a coach for wide receivers, special teams or running backs at Nevada (1985-89, 1992) and two campaigns as an assistant head coach, coach for running backs and wide receivers at UNLV (1990-91). He began his collegiate coaching career in 1984 as a graduate assistant in Minnesota under head coach Lou Holtz.
Horton received his bachelor’s degree from Nevada in 1981 and his master’s degree from the University of San Francisco in 1993. From 1976 to 1977 he played in Arkansas as a walk-on wide receiver.