That's where most of the nation first became aware of his outstanding athletic ability which includes 4.70 speed in the 40, a 4.40 time in the 20-yard shuttle and an impressive 30-inch vertical leap. Cottam also displayed excellent strength by bench pressing 185 pounds 19 times which is remarkable for a player his height.
Soon he went from a non-ranked prospect to No. 39 nationally at tight end. Most recently he was rated as the nation's top sleeper at tight end by Max Emfinger.
Cottam began hearing from schools such as Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas and Ohio State. He also picked up offers from Ole Miss, Memphis, Vanderbilt, MTSU and, most recently, Tennessee. The Vols learned first hand about Cottam's soft hands, topflight leaping ability and superb speed when he attended football camp at UT last summer and they continued to cultivate the relationship through his senior season.
Ole Miss also got a close up look at Cottam when he went to camp in Oxford. He attended games this season at both UT and Mississippi and was scheduled to visit the Rebels on Jan. 17 before making his commitment to Tennessee.
Playing in a run-oriented offense, Cottam hasn't had an opportunity to fully exhibited his ability as a pass catcher, but the Vols were enthralled with his potential over his production.
A finalists for Class AA Mr. Football in Tennessee, Cottam is also a very good basketball player and with his season now underway he puts the recruiting process behind him while committing to the school he most preferred.
The Vols get a player who can develop into both a quality blocker and pass catcher. With his height and leaping ability, Cottam should be particularly effective around the goal line in double tight end sets and has the speed to exploit the middle seam in zone defenses.
Cottam is Tennessee's third announced verbal commitment. The Vols also have commitments from Jared Hostetter and Junior College linebacker John Poe.
Tennessee is still recruiting No. 1 rated tight end Greg Olsen as well as several other highly-rated prospects at the position. The Vols were forced to use an offensive tackle Victor McClure as their second tight end this season and Jason Witten is expected to opt for the NFL Draft next spring.
The commitment by Cottam is the first step toward reinforcing what has become an important element of Tennessee's offensive attack.