Lester Cotton was quite brief in his remarks, thanking family and coaches and teachers and teammates at Tuscaloosa Central, before he donned the only cap on the table before him and put it to rest atop his head. “Roll Tide,” he said. And after a pause in case anyone wasn’t sure, added, “University of Alabama.”
Cotton said he never considered another school after receiving a Bama offer. “I was always University of Alabama.”
Cotton joins yet another outstanding Alabama recruiting class, and he’s one of the biggest at 6-foot-4, 339 pounds. He will enter The University in May and said he’s anxious to get to work with Scott Cochran, Bama’s strength and conditioning coach.
Cotton said he is already in the process of bringing his weight down to about 310 “so they can build me back up with muscle.”
Although most have projected Cotton as a college guard, he said that coaches have told him he’ll get a look at both tackle – where he played for Coach Dennis Conner at Central – and at guard – where he played in some all-star games. The Parade All-America played in both the Under Armour All-American Game and in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.
He said the position does not matter to him. He is aware there are “open slots” on the offensive line. “I’m going in to compete,” he said.
Cotton said he had already met many of his future teammates, including tackle Cam Robinson, center Ryan Kelly, and center-guard Josh Casher who are in the program and incoming freshmen quarterback Blake Barnett, offensive lineman Brandon Kennedy, and defensive lineman Daron Payne.
Cotton moved to Tuscaloosa in the middle of his ninth grade year and the coach at Central, Dennis Conner, was called to the office to meet the new enrollee. When he realized the young giant was his new player, he said, “I said, ‘Thank you, God.’”
Conner is a believer in Cotton. He said he told the youngster on arrival that if he would listen to his coaches “and work hard,” he would have success. Cotton has done that. He has been not only a great player, but a great leader and an ambassador for his school. He said Cotton has “great strength and tenacity in run blocking,” which is his best attribute as a player.
How much does his high school coach think of his potential?
“If he does what he is told from the strength and conditioning staff at Alabama,” Conner said, “it wouldn’t surprise me to see him starting the first game in 2015.”