Can Cotton play tackle?

Lester Cotton is among the top projected offensive guard prospects in America, but can the Alabama commitment kick out to tackle at the next level?

He's 6-foot-4, 328 pounds, a Scout 100 prospect and a dominant force no matter the venue.

Still, some questions remain when discussing Lester Cotton.

No, it's not recruiting -- as he remains rock solid to nearby Alabama. Bryant-Denny Stadium is visible from his Friday night home at Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Central High School.

It's his position.

Cotton is a no-brainer offensive guard prospect, and a top-five player nationally at the position. But Alabama has been actively seeking an offensive tackle in the class of 2015, where the local senior is one of four interior O-line projections. If any of the four could slide out to tackle, it would be the four-star and No. 78 prospect in America.

At Central High, however, he already plays left tackle, the position he's played more than all others as a high school star and Nick Saban's staff is aware of the possibility of the trend continuing.

"They've been talking to me about playing tackle, and I like working the left side because I'm left handed," Cotton said. "And I asked them if they wanted me on the other side. Coach (Mario) Cristobal said no."

There's been considerable progress with the state's top offensive lineman in the last year or so, something Falcons coach Dennis Conner expects to continue with more resources at Alabama.

"He needs to continue to work on his footwork, which they'll have more time (at Alabama) to work with him on that," he said. "A whole lot more weight room time, stuff like that. Hand placement is great, but his footwork and dropping back into his kick slide in pass coverage."

Cotton isn't shy about wanting to be an example for his teammates on several levels, he has even posted some of the mail he's received from big-time college football programs all over Central's facilities in an attempt at added motivation for younger players.

But it wasn't always this way.

"You have your vocal leaders, you have your leaders that lead by example, and he's definitely becoming one of those," Conner said. "There's some things we've had to work on, because all of this came on real fast.

"I was worried about him being able to handle all of this, before he committed. Once you do that, you're no longer Lester Cotton, you're Lester Cotton, the kid that committed to Alabama."

The progress has Conner placing his star senior in the same company as his top prospect at his previous high school stop.

"Sammie Hill, who plays for the Titans right now, and him (Cotton). Those two are the two best players I've coached," he said.

Cotton's reps at The Opening:


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