Nutt: 'I'm hoping he'll see the light'

HOOVER, Ala. - Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt strolled into the lobby of the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala. knowing full well the questions he was about to answer.

The Rebels, as announced by the league office earlier in the morning, were picked to finish last in the SEC West. The third-year head coach is faced with replacing numerous starters on both offense and defense, including at quarterback, running back and in the secondary.

But Nutt is used to those types of questions. He passed through them with relative ease. What he's struggled to make sense of is the status of redshirt freshman quarterback Raymond Cotton, who is considering leaving the program after just one year.

Raymond Cotton

"I'm hoping he'll see the light and get back to being himself and compete for a job," Nutt said in a private gathering with local media before taking the grand stage.

"You watch the spring game, he wasn't far off. It's not like one guy has a lot of experience, so it makes no sense. If he's not there, that's where, all of the sudden, the other guys get more attention. I've gone to the intramural field before to get a quarterback. That's no fun."

Cotton has been competing with fellow quarterbacks Nathan Stanley, a sophomore, and Randall Mackey, a junior college transfer, for starting quarterback duties in the fall. His issues seem to center around playing time or his role in the offense, where Stanley is the current front-runner.

Cotton was sidelined for portions of spring due to fatigue in his throwing shoulder, opening the door for Stanley to receive more snaps with the first team. Still, he competed in the annual Grove Bowl game, completing 5-of-7 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.

"We'll see what happens," Nutt said. "We hope he makes the right decision. He's just a freshman. Quarterbacks, they want to play yesterday. He's got everything in front of him. He has to realize that. But I'm happy with Nathan Stanley. Randall Mackey is working very hard, just like how our whole team is. You've got to go with the ones that are there, the ones that really want to be there."

Losing Cotton would certainly be a blow to an Ole Miss team in search of a replacement for Snead, last year's starter. Ole Miss also has two walk-on quarterbacks currently on the roster. Nutt said the issue could be resolved as early as today, if not tomorrow.

"That was a tough situation, because I'd just seen him the day before," junior left tackle Bradley Sowell said. "Ray's a joking guy. He was joking in the locker room, talking about playing video games or something. Then, the next day, we hear he's transferring or something. I don't know the situation. I'm about like y'all."

Senior defensive tackle Jerrell Powe reached out to Cotton earlier this week to offer some words of advice.

Jerrell Powe

Powe said he could tell Cotton was battling with the decision of whether or not to transfer.

"I tried to motivate him to stay strong and stay focused, because Coach Nutt knows what he's doing," he said. "Just believe in the system and make the right decision at the end of the day."

Nutt said Cotton's parents have encouraged the Ft. Meade, Md. native to remain on the team. Cotton, a SuperPrep All-American out of high school, was rated a four-star recruit, according to

"Right now, I don't want to just rush and say Raymond Cotton's out of the picture," Nutt said.

Senior defensive end Kentrell Lockett has yet to speak with Cotton, but said he must make the best decision for himself and keep the best interest of Ole Miss in mind with camp quickly approaching.

"If the guy actually leaves, the evidently, he doesn't really want to be there," Lockett said. "So you can say and you preach ‘We want you here,' but at the end of the day, if he's here and he doesn't really want to be here, then he's not going to perform like we need him to perform.

"Eventually, if he's not all the way in, he's really going to hurt us more than he's going to help us."

OM Spirit Top Stories