COLLEGE BASEBALL: SAYRE'S HORTON SIGNS LETTER-OF-INTENT TO PLAY AT DIVISION I LIBERTY (3 PHOTOS)
(2021-11-10)By TIM BIRNEYValley Sports Report
SAYRE — Sayre senior Brayden Horton first told his family when he was 6 he was going to play college baseball. On Wednesday, Horton took the final step toward make it a reality by signing a National Letter-of-Intent to play at Division I Liberty University in a brief ceremony here in the high school library.
(Click here to see June 30, 2021 post on Brayden Horton’s verbal commitment to Liberty
“(Brayden) said at a very young age that he was going to play baseball at a high level,” said Lisa Horton, Brayden’s mother.
“We told him how much work it would be … not just baseball specific, but athlete specific in terms of speed, strength, and determination, along with keeping your priorities straight, and not getting distracted by a lot of things teen-agers follow.
“And, he’s done a really good job. Almost to the point, where sometimes we’ve had to tell him to relax a little bit,” she laughed.
“He’s done a good job keeping his priorities straight,” added Lisa Horton.
Jeremy Horton, his father, said it’s been exciting watching Brayden pursue his dream.
“For me, as a father, to be a part of his process … at times it’s been a balance of what does it take to push your son, but at the same time allow it to be his dream, and not live vicariously through your child,” he said. “It’s been a fine-line at times.
“Once he hit his early teen years, though, you could see that switch flip,” noted Jeremy Horton. “You could see he wanted it. He was the one begging me to go throw BP, or go have a catch with him and work on his craft.
“What’s really been exciting for us is to watch him take ownership of his dreams, and to really chase them,” he added.
Brayden Horton verbally committed to play at Liberty in late June. Unlike so many Division I athletes you read about who re-consider their commitment, or de-commit and re-open the recruiting process, Horton remains steadfast in his commitment.
“I’ve had absolutely no doubts,” he said. “From the beginning I think this was God’s plan, and I really felt it was the right fit.
“I love the coaching staff, I love the program, and I love the university,” noted Horton. “I’m fully confident in my decision to go to Liberty.”
Lisa Horton said Brayden has had his sights set on Liberty for several years, carrying on a family tradition in the process.
“His uncle Jonathon (Horton) played baseball at Liberty, and a couple years ago Brayden became focused on going to a Christian school, and he thought it would be really cool if he went to the same school his uncle Jon did.
“He turned down a lot of good offers waiting for Liberty,” she noted. “They wouldn’t offer him until they saw him in person, and they couldn’t see him in person because Covid had shut everything down.
“I admire his determination and his hard work because there are a lot of teen-agers who would have tried to take the easy road,” Lisa Horton added. “He didn’t.”
Sayre baseball coach Jamie VanDuzer believes Liberty is getting a gem in Brayden Horton.
“I have no doubt he can play at the next level,” he said. “He’s worked really hard, and he’s put a lot of time in. I think he’s ready.
“It doesn’t matter what they ask him to do, he’s going to do his best to do it,” noted VanDuzer. “I think any coach out there is really going to appreciate that, and appreciate his work ethic.
“He’s usually the first one in, and the last one to leave — that goes a long ways,” VanDuzer continued. “He’s huge in big moments. He’s come up big for us in the clutch many times.
“The one think I know is Liberty will get a great baseball player, a really good student, an most of all a really good kid; that’s what I’m most proud of,” added VanDuzer.
Brayden Horton adds that the commitment takes a weight off his shoulders heading into his senior season on the diamond for the Redskins.
“If feels fantastic not to have to worry about what next year will bring.
“We’re going to have a good team this year,” Horton said. “I’m just looking to have fun again.”
Summers for the Hortons over the last six or seven years have consisted of travel baseball tournament after travel baseball tournament. Brayden Horton said this summer will be a little different.
“I think this summer will be more about finding a tournament here or there, but it’s not going to be schedule tournaments and travel every weekend.
“I think (the summer) will be a lot of preparation for fall ball, and getting ready for my freshman season,” he said.
“Hopefully, I can make an impact, but I still have a long ways to go,” added Brayden Horton.
Jeremy and Lisa Horton have invested a great deal of money and time into their son’s dream.
“People have said to us, ‘we can’t believe the financial investment you’ve put into it,’” said Jeremy Horton. “But, we turn around and say ‘we don’t do vacations, we do travel baseball, and it’s the most enjoyable thing in the world for us to watch our son go out and do what he absolutely loves.’”
“We were both involved in sports when we were younger, and we know that with sports you don’t just learn about sports, you learn about so many other things,” said Lisa Horton. “The people he has met, and the places he has been — it’s phenomenal. A lot of doors have opened up because he’s done what he loved.’”
So was it worth it?
“Every minute of it,” said Lisa Horton.
“It’s absolutely been worth it,” said Jeremy Horton. “All the travel baseball, the high school baseball, and the summers leagues — all of it has been been a joy to us.”
IN PHOTO 1: Sayre senior Brayden Horton. IN PHOTO 2: From left: Gabe Horton, Lisa Horton, Brayden Horton, and Jeremy Horton. IN PHOTO 3: From left: (seated) Gabe Horton, Lisa Horton, Brayden Horton, and Jeremy Horton. Standing: Sayre High Principal Dayton Handrick and baseball coach Jamie VanDuzer. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
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