Enforced absence can motivate Jaycee Horn to superstardom in 2022

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn /

Absence from the game of football could end up motivating Carolina Panthers cornerback Jaycee Horn to potential superstardom in 2022.

It was a cruel first season in the NFL for Jaycee Horn. The Carolina Panthers invested heavily in the talented cornerback at No. 8 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft and although early signs looked extremely promising, a broken foot in Week 3 at the Houston Texans brought his contribution to an abrupt halt.

Horn was forced to sit and watch from the sidelines while the Panthers endured a torrid run of results without him. The former South Carolina standout was unbeaten when on the field, but seeing his teammates lose 12 of their final 14 games obviously left a sour taste in the mouth when things could have been different.

All signs point to Horn being fit and firing for the upcoming season. His workout videos on social media had fans salivating at the prospect of seeing him lock down opponents once again and the defensive back wasted no time in making his presence felt during OTAs last week.

This is all a step in the right direction for Horn, who has all the athletic intangibles needed to become a shutdown presence and potential NFL Comeback Player of the Year candidate in 2022.

Jaycee Horn is keen to make up for some lost time in 2022

Even though the player is still taking things one day at a time, it’s clear that this enforced absence is something that’s come with a “making up for lost time” mentality.

"“It ate me up; I’m not gonna lie. It killed me because regardless of circumstances, I ain’t hitting my goals last year, you know? I wanted to be in that conversation. I wanted to be in the playoffs, I wanted to win, and I couldn’t do any of that. I was hurt, so even though I couldn’t control it, with me being hurt, it still ate at me bad. So all I can do is keep stacking the days and wait till game one.”"

Horn is set to lead a cornerback unit that will also benefit from the presence of Donte Jackson after he signed a new deal to keep him from leaving in free agency. Stephon Gilmore might not be around, but if Carolina can get the necessary improvements from Keith Taylor Jr. and C.J. Henderson, this group could be an athletic force to be reckoned with.

While Horn hasn’t really benefitted from a great deal of NFL experience, the skill and mentality are already there to become a star. If the player becomes hungrier as a result of him missing 14 contests as a rookie, then that’s just fine with the Panthers.

The presence of Steve Wilks’ return to the fold is something else that can help Horn make the right leap. His experience as a defensive backs coach is widely revered across the league and if he can fine-tune the immense potential within the entire secondary, Carolina might just have half a chance of making a splash.

As for Horn, he was in a reflective mood when speaking with the media recently. But it was the clearest sign yet that the corner is willing to do whatever it takes to put a turbulent period behind him and get the Panthers where they need to be.

"“It was difficult. Obviously, just being a competitor and seeing your team out there, you know, fighting to win and you can’t help them out. It’s frustrating, but you just take what comes with it. It helped me grow as a person and learn a little more about myself, so it was a good experience.”"

Jaycee Horn hit the nail on the head.

Putting this experience to good use is absolutely essential.

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He already looks well on track to achieve this. So excitement is rightfully higher than ever within the team’s fanbase in regards to what they could potentially see from Horn when competitive action rolls around once again.