Tigers Back In The Picture For Cotton?

With the news that Auburn has hired Gus Malzahn we spoke with Raymond Cotton Sr. to get his take on the news.

Fort Meade, Md.--Former Auburn commitment Raymond Cotton has had a rough year much like every one of the Tigers' committed players. First offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was fired during the season, then came Tommy Tuberville's departure. That meant a tough time for players such as Cotton and his father says because of that it has meant taking things slow to get back to the recruiting game.

Cotton will take part in next week's Offense-Defense All-American Game in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He will play on the West team while good friend and Auburn commitment Philip Lutzenkirchen will play for the East. With the announcement on Sunday that the Tigers have hired Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator, Cotton Sr. says he and his son will have plenty to talk about when they get together again.

"I called him and told him today and he didn't know a whole lot about Gus," Cotton Sr. says. "I know about him from when he first got hired at Arkansas and then went to Tulsa. He's a great offensive mind. I'll be heading down to the bowl game. It's nationally televised on Friday, Jan. 2. I'll be down there Thursday. After the bowl game is over we'll sit down and talk about it.

"When I first called him and mentioned the name to him it didn't just immediately jump out to him," he adds. "When we sit down and he and I talk about it and I show him what he's done the last couple of years at Tulsa and at Arkansas with Mustain, he should definitely be a little excited about it. We'll sit down after the game and talk about it."

Still committed to the Tigers, Cotton de-committed when the announcement came that all of the members of Auburn's former staff were told to look for jobs. Since that time James Willis has been hired by Chizik for his new staff. Combine that with Chizik and Phillip Lolley all keeping in touch with Cotton and he says the Tigers are still in the mix.

"Coach Lolley basically told me Ray would get a phone call the first day they could call," Cotton Sr. says. "When we first heard that Coach Willis was retained we have been in touch with him. We called him up to get it from the horse's mouth. That will definitely open the dialogue back up with Auburn. From there we'll talk with Coach Malzahn and Chizik, but it will definitely open the dialogue back up. I won't talk about it with him until after the bowl game."

Cotton and the Tigers have a strong bond already formed. Despite the losses of Tuberville and Franklin, Cotton Sr. says his son still has ties to Auburn, but right now wants to take his time to build things back up to a comfortable level.

"He likes the campus and everything, but so much happened so quick," Cotton Sr. says. "It got crazy for him. I told him to take a deep breath so he de-committed. He was curious to see who the hire was going to be. Coach Chizik did call. He called immediately after he was hired. I just told him how Ray was doing.

"As a parent you just don't want your child to get beat up," he adds. "He had been committed since April. He got beat up with Franklin and then Tuberville and then Willis. He had those relationships he had built and now he's got to start out trying to build relationships all over. We'll have a chance to sit down and talk about what Coach Malzahn has brought to the table at Tulsa and Arkansas. Those are the types of things he likes. I don't know where it's going to put them, but I'm pretty confident he's going to smile when he sees what kinds of numbers he puts up and what kind of offense he runs."

Currently there are several schools in the mix for Cotton along with Auburn. Cotton Sr. says at the moment he's trying to finalize visits for the month of January.

"Mississippi State is making a strong push even with Tyler Russell over there," Cotton Sr. says. "The offensive coordinator coming from Florida, he's trying to get a more mobile guy. They're trying to get the fourth visit. He'll visit Ole Miss on Jan. 9. He'll definitely visit Southern Miss on Jan. 16 and then Arkansas is 23-25 and that may or may not happen. He's going to try to get Mississippi State in there and possibly Tennessee or Florida. The ones he has right now are Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Arkansas."

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