"He's really stepped it up this season," said Bruce Vertanen, head coach at Ames High. "We ask a lot out of him. He's played both offense and defense and he's the number one focus of our passing game. We run behind him in our run game and he's put up big numbers in our passing game."
Cotton, who also plays tight end, caught 14 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns in the first two games this season. Last Friday, Cotton was sensational in a 25-14 loss to Southeast Polk, hauling in 12 receptions for 156 yards and a touchdown.
"We use him primarily as a tight end," Vertanen said. "We split him out some, but 90 percent of the time he's a true tight end."
"He's a good combination of size and speed and he's athletic," Vertanen added. "At 6-6, 220 plus pounds with excellent hands he's got the skills of a wide receiver to go with the body of a tight end. He is creating matchup problems and (Ben) is forcing defenses to change."
Cotton, the Scout.com's No. 2-rated prospect in Iowa and the 14th best tight end in the nation, might have enjoyed similar success as a junior if not for injury. Now fully healed, Cotton is having a breakout season for Ames.
"We've seen steady improvement throughout his whole career here," Vertanen said. "He's tremendously determined and focused on being the best that he can be. This type of breakout would have happened last year, but last year he came off an ankle injury that he's now 100 percent recovered from."
With Louisville losing their top two tight ends to graduation next season, Cotton could factor into Steve Kragthorpe's plans on offense right away.
"Louisville has a tremendous, tremendous offense," said Vertanen. "Most freshmen, I'm guessing, are probably redshirted. But I don't know. He's the kind of kid that's going to do whatever you ask of him. I know that he can play at that level and become an excellent contributor."