Cotton emerges big as Hawkeyes take home Floyd

BY TORK MASON | OCTOBER 01, 2012 6:30 AM

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Jordan Cotton wasn’t nervous as the ball arced toward him.

“It felt like it was up there forever,” the junior said. “I don’t think it was nerves, it was just more of an adrenaline running. I was that wide open, and I just had to come up with the ball.”

The 47-yard touchdown catch, which came on a flea-flicker in the second quarter of a 31-13 victory over Minnesota on Sept. 29, served Cotton’s début to Hawkeye Nation. He recorded 2 receptions for 44 yards, and he has 4 receptions in his last two games with a 23.25 yards-per-catch average. But his rise has come seemingly out of nowhere.

The Mount Pleasant, Iowa, native came to Iowa in 2009 as one of three highly touted native recruits, along with Keenan Davis and Brandon Wegher. He redshirted his first year on campus and spent the next two years buried on the depth chart. The term “bust” began popping up around his name. But new offensive coordinator Greg Davis’ arrival seems to have changed that.

“With this new system, everyone has a clean slate,” Cotton said.

Davis said it was good to see Cotton finally reach the end zone.

“To see a guy like that, who’s worked so hard and come such a long way — he deserved that touchdown,” Davis said.

Davis added that Cotton’s maturity has played a big part in his recent emergence. He said his teammate comes to practice with more focus and attention to detail, and the rewards are visible on the field.

“He’s coming into practice, and he’s not letting a rep go to waste,” Davis said. “The guy really changed the way he’s living, changed the way he was practicing, and really competing. That builds up your confidence when you’re doing that, especially when you’re starting to catch the ball. His confidence is up through the roof now.”

Quarterback James Vandenberg said he couldn’t agree more. He said Cotton picked up the offense well and really understands everything the Hawkeyes are trying to do. Better than ever, in fact.

“He’s got a better grasp on the offense, maybe than he ever had, even in the old offense,” Vandenberg said. “He’s able to play to his potential more.”

Davis said Cotton’s progress could be an example for the rest of the team. He said Cotton had a big transition to make from playing running back in high school to becoming a Big Ten-caliber receiver, and it’s a sign for other players that they can overcome the obstacles placed in front of them.
Vandenberg said Cotton has established himself as a contributor, and fans should expect to see more of No. 23.

“He’s definitely earned that right to continue to be involved in the offense,” Vandenberg said. “As he gets more and more catches in more and more situations, he’s just going to get more and more confident and better and better.”

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