This feature story on Jack Horan originally ran in the program for Bucknell's game against Georgetown on Nov. 11, 2017.

Jack Horan always believed he would start for Bucknell. He just thought it would be at quarterback, not wide receiver.

“By the fourth time Coach Susan asked me if I would move to receiver, I was like, ‘Alright, I’ll give it a shot,’” Horan said. “I had nothing to lose. I was staying at third-, fourth-string quarterback so I decided to make the switch before my junior year because I wanted to give myself a chance to start. And I’m happy I did.”

So are the Bison. During his first season in the receiving corps, Horan finished second on the team in receiving yards (239) even though he was a distant sixth in receptions (16). This season, he has been a favorite target of Bucknell’s quarterbacks, registering team highs in receptions (26) and receiving yards (377) even though he missed the Lehigh and Georgetown games due to injury.

“He’s a gifted athlete and has deceptive speed,” said assistant coach Steven King, who works with the receivers. “He’s underrated in his ability to run down the field. He’s big. He’s physical. He was willing to put in the work to not only become a receiver but to become a starter at receiver. Now, he’s enjoying the fruits of his labor with the success he’s had this season.”

King said Horan made a “seamless” transition to receiver because of his work ethic, athletic ability and football IQ. While Horan admitted it wasn’t always easy, he said his years spent as a running quarterback at West Morris Mendham High School prepared him to make the switch.

“Switching to receiver allowed me to run as much as I liked to in high school,” Horan said. “Another thing that helped was, since I had been at Bucknell for two seasons, I knew our playbook. I knew all of the plays and all of the routes. The only thing I had to learn how to do was run routes because I had never done that before. This year, I’ve been able to play as a receiver instead of worrying about running routes and all of the technique behind it.” 

To his own surprise, Horan has developed into a deep-ball threat. He has twice caught a pass of at least 70 yards, and three of his four career touchdown receptions were longer than 35 yards.  

“I never thought I would be the guy who would take the top off the defense,” Horan said with a laugh. “I’m not the fastest receiver on the team, but it’s become my role. I’m able to get down the field and go for the ball. I guess the quarterbacks and coaches trust me, and I’ve embraced it.”

Another thing Horan has embraced is his status as a walk-on, which he said motivated him to work as hard as he could, day in and day out. 

“Being a walk-on makes it that much more rewarding when you get on the field and are playing a lot,” Horan said. “For me, Trevor Fennimore and all the other walk-ons who are starting, it’s rewarding to show we’re equal to the guys who get scholarships.”

Horan hasn’t just succeeded on the football field. He’s also excelled in the classroom. An Accounting and Financial Management major, he’s a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta national honor society and the Beta Gamma Sigma academic honor society. In 2016, he was voted to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team and to the 14-man Academic All-Patriot League Team.

“Academics have always been a priority for me, and they were a large part of the reason why I chose Bucknell,” Horan said. “When I was doing my college search, academics were always at the top of the list and then football. As a student-athlete, I resolved to do my best in both the classroom and on the field. I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity I was given.”

When asked what he plans to do after graduation, Horan said he will go into finance. While he doesn’t know what exactly he wants to do in that industry, he said the lessons he learned during his time as a Bison have set him up to have success.

“The values instilled in me from being a student-athlete will help me whatever I do after graduation,” Horan said. “I’m grateful for the time I’ve spent at Bucknell, for sure.”

The Horan File

  • 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District Team
  • 2016 Academic All-Patriot League Team
  • Team leader in receptions (26) and receiving yards (377)
  • Finished second on the team in receiving yards (239) a year ago
  • Caught longest pass of 2016 (71) and 2017 to date (76)
  • Has caught two touchdown passes of 60+ yards during his career
  • Has started 11 games, including eight of nine 2017 contests