Ft. Meade (MD) Quarterback Raymond Cotton visited Ole Miss over the weekend.
One of the top ranked signal-callers in the nation, Raymond Sr. said, had a fantastic visit. (Mr. Cotton could not come on the visit, but his sisters, who live within an hour of Oxford, did.)
The 6-4, 224-pounder with 4.5 speed, a 38-inch vertical jump and a cannon for an arm did not commit to the Rebels on his visit, but he was not expected to.
What did come to light, however, was what a perfect fit Cotton is for Ole Miss, in all respects.
Why would we make such a bold statement in this fickle process known as recruiting? Let us count the ways.
From all accounts, the Cottons are an extremely close-knit family and Mississippi is their "home base." Mr. Cotton, we have learned, is expected to retire from the military soon and will possibly move to the Kosciusko area. One aunt lives in Robinsonville and another in Memphis, we were told. Ole Miss is centrally located to the Cotton family tree.
In an attempt to try to understand a recruit's personality, you can surmise a lot from the parents and their character. Mr. Cotton has been above board and totally honest with the media the entire way through his son's recruitment. No bull, just facts, and he has an obvious deep love for Raymond, Jr.
From some people on campus who met Raymond during his visit, he is a chip off the old block, so to speak. Polite, courteous, bright and attentive. Also, he's keenly perceptive. He's a kid who needs, and will respond to, positive coaching, not browbeating. That is Houston Nutt's method. That is Kent Austin, who would be directly coaching Cotton, in a nutshell.
Raymond is also a young man who has only scratched the surface of his potential, as is the case with most high school quarterbacks. There is nobody in the country who can guide his career better than Austin - we have seen proof of that already with rising junior QB Jevan Snead and the vast improvements he made in just one year under Kent's direction. Kent also has a proven, highly successful worksheet with CFL quarterbacks and is known as one of the most astute QB coaches in the country, bar none.
Cotton fits the Rebel system and the Rebel system fits his dream of one day playing in the National Football League.
There are a world of options for Raymond at Ole Miss in the Rebel offense. If he needs a redshirt, the Rebels can afford to do that with Snead still around for at least one more year. But if he shows he's ready to play some his true frosh year, he's athletically capable of running the Wild Rebel sets while he's developing, honing his skills and learning the whole offense. It's a win-win for Ole Miss and the talented youngster.
And speaking of offensive systems, nobody who is still in the recruiting picture will be teaching him a pro-style offense other than Ole Miss. Mississippi State, thought to be one of the main contenders, will run mostly from the shotgun in Dan Mullen's offense employed while he was at Florida. In the NFL, you have to be able to play from under center, one of the main reasons Snead is elated about the offense he's currently in at Ole Miss.
Ask Jevan the benefits and difficulties of playing under center if you've never done that before. It took Snead, who was exclusively a shotgun guy until he came to Ole Miss, nearly a year to perfect the 3-step and 5-step drops and to run play-action, etc.
But the Rebels will also employ the shotgun, like the pros, roughly 40% of the time. They will also run some spread formations, two tights and everything in between.
Here is the main kicker concerning Cotton's fit with the Ole Miss offense. He is athletic enough to run the whole offense when his turn comes around. Wild Rebel? He can handle it. Spread? He can handle it. Under center? With the proper training, he can handle it. Option game? He can handle it. Shotgun? He can handle it. With Cotton in the lineup, the Rebs don't have to split the QB out wide or take him out of the game. He can do it all - he's that type of athlete.
What about the timing of Cotton coming to Ole Miss, you ask. Snead has two years left, but who knows if Jevan will hang around for two more years? He will be draft eligible after next season and he is expected to have another year worthy of high NFL consideration.
The possibilities for anything and everything are available to Cotton, but the main ingredient is that he will be ready to perform when the time comes because he will be developed with care and not thrown in the fire until he is ready.
We can name a lot of young men through the years who we thought were good fits for Ole Miss based on their personalities and the situation they would be coming into.
Eli Manning was perfect for Ole Miss. Jevan Snead is too. Deuce McAllister comes to mind as well. Romaro Miller was a natural fit. The list goes on.
Certainly, those guys could have fit in at a lot of places from a football perspective, but Ole Miss also fit their emotional and personality needs like a glove.
Having said that, we don't know if we have ever seen a better fit than Raymond Cotton, Jr., and Ole Miss.
It just makes sense. Common sense. Having dealt with Mr. Cotton and Raymond on a limited basis, it's easy to see they have plenty of that.
No matter where Raymond Cotton ends up, he will most likely be an elite player on the collegiate level, but knowing what we know, from the outside looking in, nowhere can match Ole Miss as being the best fit for him and his overall well-being.
Raymond Cotton -
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