Sept. 13, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Jordan Cotton is a senior wide receiver/kick returner for the University of Iowa football team. In the first two games of the season, Cotton has caught two passes for 58 yards and returned four kicks for an average of 20.8 yards per return. He is from Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Twelve of your 13 career catches came last season. How did that boost your confidence heading into 2013?
“It boosted my confidence to play a bigger role at receiver, getting so many catches more than from the year before that. My goal going into this year is to be a more productive receiver.”
Your father played football at the University of Iowa from 1984-87. Did that fact make for added pressure for you during your time here?
“A little bit. He’s always stayed out of the way and let me do my own thing. We played two different positions, but it’s fun having my dad play here, so I could follow in his footsteps and play here also.”
You led the Big Ten Conference in kickoff returns last season (19-536-1, 28.2). What are some keys to being successful in that area?
“(At Iowa) you’ve got to get your feet wet first in special teams. I take special teams seriously, it’s one of my jobs. I was thankful I could excel at that, and I have a lot of great guys working hard, we’re all working hard. They’re making my job easy.”
What mindset makes for a successful special team’s player?
“I don’t think it’s all that different. You’ve just got to be hungry. You’re not just playing offense or defense, you’re playing special teams. If you’re an offensive player, they’re asking you to make some tackles. You’ve got to work with some of the defensive guys, and ask them how to tackle and stuff, and work with them. It takes a lot more concentration than a regular player.”
When your senior season ends, what needs to be accomplished before you consider it a success?
“To get back into a bowl game. We’re always striving to compete for a Big Ten Championship. That’s our goal going into it. Going out the right way as a senior, there’s nothing better than winning a bowl game.”
How would you rather be perceived, a receiver or a returner?
“I want to be an all-around player, not just a receiver, not just a special teams player. I want to be known as a guy that came in every day and was willing to put the work in and is out there fighting with a group of guys that are working hard.”
You finished with six tackles as a junior. What do you enjoy most about turning the tables on an offensive player by making a key stop?
“It’s fun. That’s mostly what I played in high school, during my younger years. My freshman, sophomore and junior year I played cornerback. It was fun to go down and hit people. I like playing defense. Iowa was the only school that wanted me to play offense, and the rest wanted me to play defense. It’s fun getting tackles.”
What has the transition been like for a senior who in his final year has a new position coach and special teams coach?
“It’s been a great transition. I trust Coach (Bobby) Kennedy and Coach (Chris) White one-hundred percent. They really know what they’re doing. They’ve coached a lot of great players. Both coached in the NFL. It has been a fun transition. I’m learning a lot from them.”
When in your career did you feel like you had arrived as a key contributor? Were there any significant situations that helped validate that?
“Not really, because we’re always out here competing. You never want to settle and say, `I’ve arrived, I’m going to play every down’, because that’s when you start losing your job. We’ve all been out here competing, and I’m looking forward to a fun year.”
A homegrown Iowa boy, spending five years with the Hawkeye football program. How does that feel?
“It’s the greatest feeling on Earth. Being from here, being born and raised here, I was always a Hawkeye fan. Playing for this university and going out in front of 75,000 Iowa fans, there’s nothing like it.”