Jake is the son of Nebraska offensive line coach Barney Cotton and brother of NU tight end Ben Cotton. He's the first Southeast player to sign with NU since 2003, after Nebraska signed four Knights players in the three classes prior to that (Barrett Ruud in 2001, Dane Todd in 2002 and Bo Ruud and Andy Birkel in 2003).
“He was hurt last year and wasn't able to do some running. He compensated by just lifting and lifting. And it's paid off. That's the kind of kid he is. He's a really motivated kid. That's one of the things that really sets him apart.” — Lincoln Southeast coach John Larsen
He'll spurn the draw of being coached by his dad and start on the defensive side of the ball. Cotton continues a trend of defensive linemen in the Huskers' backyard to ink their name with the hometown school. It's the third straight year — and fifth out of seven — that Nebraska has signed a d-lineman from a Lincoln high school. His only other offers at the time of his commitment came from Division II schools, including UNO. Just a year ago, Cotton wasn't viewed as a Division I prospect, but an obvious growth spurt changed that. The swagger soon followed. “The thing that helped him so much,” Larsen said, “was gaining the size and strength. It's just improved his confidence so much.”
These days Cotton definitely looks the part of a major college prospect. While some on Internet message boards criticized the offer to Cotton, he has all the physical tools to be successful at the next level. His offer is as much a projection of his upside as anything. Having dad and big brother around on a daily basis to monitor his progress can't hurt.