"I was running some errands with my dad and we stopped at Dick's Sporting Goods," said Horner, a 5-foot-7, 144 pound junior. "They had a bunch of those Cutters receivers gloves. I told my dad that if he wanted me to be good, I needed special gloves. He finally gave in and, well now I'm getting calls from Les Miles and Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin every day."
Horner's father, Jeff, said he was skeptical that the sticky $49.99 gloves would make his son any better.
"If you can catch you can catch," said Mr. Horner. "Sure, they're helpful but if you catch as bad as Derek does, there's not much to work with. Also, he's short, weak and probably runs a 5.5 40. But, boy, I was wrong. He's awesome at football now. Those gloves totally weren't a ripoff."
Horner's coaches noticed his glove-induced greatness immediately at practice on Monday.
"He was easily the best player on the field," said head coach Mack Robinson. "Just blowing people away. Catching everything. Running people over. The best player I've ever had the good fortune to coach. And it's all due to those gloves. The other receivers have the cheaper $40 and $30 Nike and Under Armour ones."
USC head coach Lane Kiffin says Horner's story is not rare.
"A lot of people think that being a great athlete comes from God-given athletic ability mixed with hard work," he said. "That couldn't be farther from the truth. An athlete's success is dictated solely on how much his or her parents spend on top-shelf athletic equipment."
Horner's father admits he is inspired by his son.
"I saw a $600 driver at Dick's when we were there," said Mr. Horner. "I bet if I get that I'll become great at golf."