Height/Weight: 6-foot-6, 305-pounds
High School: Lincoln Southeast (NE)
Starting opposite of All-American guard Spencer Long for the first six games of the season, Cotton also dealt with a knee injury that caused him to miss two games (Michigan and Michigan State) during the season. When he was on the field, the knee was still bothersome.
When he was healthy, he was a staple up front, helping an offensive line open up holes for junior running back Ameer Abdullah, who rushed for 1,690 yards.
Cotton was awarded the Tom Osborne Citizenship award.
Likely paired with Colorado transfer Alex Lewis on the left side in the fall, the duo has been described as “nasty” by teammates during spring practices.
“A bunch of hotheads,” said Abdullah. “I don’t want my offensive lineman to be nice. I want some nasty mean dudes, guys that will spit in your face. That’s what they are and that’s what they bring – sort of that old school Nebraska.”
With the graduation of offensive lineman with tons of experience (Jeremiah Sirles, Brent Qvale, Andrew Rodriguez, Cole Pensick and Long), Cotton will be looked as an elder statesman on the front five. To get ready for the transition to leader, Cotton said his focus this spring was more about the “big picture” stuff.
“Last year I had guys like Sirles and Pensick help me with the bigger picture, now as an older guy I think it’s my role to look,” said Cotton, who hopes to better identify blitzes from the linebacker and safety spot. “I want to look at the whole defense and not just my guy.”
BRR projection: Cotton might not be the most media savvy spokesman on the team (great interview in my opinion, but you can tell doesn’t like speaking to reporters), but the senior will be looked at as a captain type in 2014 – especially for a front five that doesn’t feature much experience. With the type of season Ameer Abdullah is projected to have, a Nebraska offensive lineman will have to be on the all-conference team, Cotton is a likely choice.
How he ended up in Lincoln:
With his father an assistant coach and his brother already in the Nebraska system, it always appeared Jake Cotton would eventually become a Husker. His offer didn’t come until November of his senior year – he immediately accepted it.
At the time just 250-pounds, the staff knew they could add weight to Cotton’s 6-foot-6 frame. His position at the next level though was in question. His head coach at the time, Jeff Larsen, felt he would be a defensive tackle at the next level because of his speed. Cotton would play defensive line for just one season at Nebraska, before being moved to guard in between his freshman and redshirt freshman season.