January 11, 2009

Rebs' top QB target tours Ole Miss

Raymond Cotton Sr., and his wife never intended for this January to be so crazy.

Their son, four-star quarterback Raymond Cotton, gave a verbal commitment to Auburn last spring and, if things had gone according to plan, that was going to be the end of the recruiting process.

As the Cottons know all too well now, things often deviate from the plan, especially in the world of college football. So when Auburn stumbled to a 5-7 season and Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville resigned/was fired, everything changed.

That development opened the door for other schools to step in and court Cotton. Ole Miss did that this weekend, bringing the 6-foot-4, 216-pound quarterback to Oxford for an official visit. The signal-caller's parents didn't make the trip, choosing instead to do some shopping on Saturday.

"It's just been crazy," Raymond Cotton Sr. said. "Even the schools that he has no interest in are calling. It's been tiresome. Me and my wife decided to take a break and relax. My sisters volunteered to jump in, so that was good. Thank God the dead period is about to start."

Jackson State alumnus Sylvia Cotton and Mississippi State graduate Carolyn Cotton Bland, Kosciusko natives who still live in north Mississippi, made the trip to Oxford Saturday and escorted their nephew on his official visit.

"It went very well," Cotton said. "They really enjoyed going over to Coach (Houston) Nutt's house. One made the comment, 'Maybe I should have gone to Ole Miss.' I won't say which one."

Cotton did not commit to the Rebels on his visit. He will be back on the road Friday to Hattiesburg for an official visit to Southern Mississippi. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder made a favorable impression on a recent visit to Meade, Md., and the plan is for Cotton to take an official visit to the Manhattan, Kan., campus on Jan. 23. If he takes a final visit on Jan. 30, Raymond Cotton Sr., said, it will be to Mississippi State.

A decision, however, is probably going to be made before some of those trips in late January. Raymond Cotton Sr., said his son will give his school of choice a "silent, solid verbal" soon, but there will be no public announcement until National Signing Day on Feb. 4, so that a ceremony at Fort Meade, one designed to celebrate Cotton's accomplishment and provide a morale boost for some military families living on the base, isn't spoiled.

"We're going to keep that under our hats," Raymond Cotton Sr. said.

Cotton will choose from a group of schools, his father said, that includes Ole Miss, Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State, Kansas State and Auburn.

"He's real, real, real close," Cotton Sr. said. "He has in the back of his mind where he's going, and that coaching staff will be getting a phone call here in the next week or so."

Cotton threw for 2,243 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior. He is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 3 scrambling quarterback and the No. 12 dual-threat quarterback in the country.

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