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Tory Horton returns for one more year in green and gold

Collegian | Lauren Mascardo
Colorado State University No.14, Tory Horton runs alongside a San Diego State University player at the military appreciation game against San Diego State University, CSU won 22-19.

“I’m back,” Colorado State’s star wide receiver Tory Horton announced via social media on Dec. 17.

After mulling on whether, or not to enter the draft, Ram fans can expect to see No. 14 in green and gold for one more season.


Horton spent two seasons at Colorado State, coming over with coach Jay Norvell from Nevada. 

“I look at (Norvell) as a key mentor,” Horton said. “He’s a very competitive person, he cares. Me coming back to help the program, that’s something that we all thought about when we first got to CSU and he’s been busting his tail off to make that happen. I just want to have that extra support and that inside voice in the locker room because not a lot of coaches can get that insight — you know locker room moment and voice in there.”

After losing two key receivers in Dallin Holker to the NFL draft and Louis Brown IV to the transfer portal, Horton coming back is a major win for Norvell and the CSU receiving room. Horton has reeled in 167 receptions for 2267 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns, one of which was a passing touchdown. 

Norvell said that the biggest piece of recruiting they had to do this offseason was convincing their All Mountain West first team wide receiver to return to the team. After ending the season 5-7 with a disappointing finish, one big reason Horton said he wanted to come back was to leave the team better than when him and Norvell got there.

“The biggest recruiting job we had to do was really to talk to Tory Horton,” Norvell said. “(We talked to) him and his family about the benefits of staying in college one more year and not going to the National Football League and I just really felt the responsibility with my experience of coaching the NFL and being involved in many Senior Bowls and many combines evaluating players, I really felt he needed to know the good and bad with his decision. And what he would weigh and we’re just so thankful Tory is coming back and excited.”

Over his two seasons at CSU, Horton was named to the All-Mountain West first team consecutive times. He was also named to several-award watch lists including: the Fred Biletnikoff Award, The Paul Hornung Award and the Maxwell Award. lists and honors that he no doubt is in line to receive once again this upcoming season.

With quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi also announcing his return to the team as well, the dynamic duo will now have an offseason to prepare, a luxury they didn’t get last season as Fowler-Nicolosi wasn’t named the starter until the second week of the season.

“The offseason is probably one of the most important times for a team to come together and build that relationship to dial in on all of the deep routes, short routes, when to release, when to check out of stuff,” Horton said. “That’s just a huge jump that we could take as an offense and as a quarterback to receiver relationship. With me, you’ve got Justus Ross(-Simmons) and then Dylan Goffney and all of them boys coming back. I feel like that connection that we’ll work on during the winter and even the summer and spring. Running the routes on air and going against some of the key coverages will put a better understanding on how we see it with the quarterback and we know we’re on the same page.”

After a tough couple of days with the transfer portal for CSU, Horton’s announcement was one that was well received and more than welcomed. Horton was 12th in the nation in receiving yards and one of only 23 receivers to surpass 1,000 yards, despite dealing with a multitude of injuries.


Horton comes back to a receiving room that is now filled with a couple of recruits that are the among the highest CSU has ever seen. When recruiting those receivers Norvell was able to visit Horton and his family in their California residence and reminisce on all of the time and success that the two had spent together over the years.

“I went and saw Tory’s parents when I was out recruiting in California,” Norvell said. “And I was there four years ago when he was coming out of high school. And I walked in the hallway and there was a poster of Tory playing baseball in high school, a poster of Tory playing basketball, a poster of Tory at Nevada getting the New Comer of the year and then a poster of Tory at Colorado State where he’s the New Comer of the Year here. Now he’s the team MVP and he gets our academic award and it’s all on the walls. To see a kid like that and his progress and you’ve been so close to his family is really cool.”

Horton will now be on watch to break several career-records at CSU. Sitting at 167 career receptions, he sits only 72 receptions away from Rashard Higgins record of 239. While it is a little further out of reach, he can still reach Higgins mark of 3,649 career-receiving yards, a mark he sits 1,382 yards away from. Those joined with several season records that he has been close to breaking in the past could signal a big season for the Rams offense.

“I wasn’t really too much focused on the records,” Horton said. “I did think about during that third year at CSU would make a huge stamp leaving my name out there in Fort Collins doing that third year. Just having that legacy being built, of course bringing back the wide receiver U that you always here.”

Horton will also have the opportunity to do something that hasn’t ever been done before at CSU: have three consecutive seasons going for more than 1,000 yards.

If Horton is able to set that mark and some of the other wide receivers step up, CSU could very well become the WRU destination that new recruits look at.

“But my main focus is to get wins and to make the Mountain West championship and a bowl game,” Horton said. “Hopefully the New Year’s Six if we get there. But the records all come with the success and the hard work that I put in from the offseason and that carrying on to the season.”

With bowl games and MW championships on his mind, Horton seems ready to pounce on the opportunity to however hard it takes to achieve those goals.

While now it’s pretty cut and dry what his expectations are, there was a point in time that Horton wasn’t sure he would be returning to CSU. But for every decision, there’s always that one moment that can make you hop off the fence.

“The NFL isn’t going anywhere,” Horton said. “Of course there is going to be some risks good, or bad, but it’ll still be there. This college time, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Once you’re done with your college years there’s no getting that back. I feel like this last year could be a year where CSU makes a huge jump and (we) stamp our name on the board of getting those top contenders and (just being) that powerful team that other teams have a hard time playing against.”

Reach Damon Cook at or on Twitter @dwcook2001.

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Damon Cook
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.

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