By LARRY VAUGHT
Raymond Cottrell was a high-profile recruit in school but he never heard from Kentucky. Still, when he decided to transfer from Texas A&M after one year, he found his way to Lexington to play for the Wildcats despite having interest from over 20 other schools.
“Making my decision this time, I really took a little bit longer than usual than I would when I make a choice. Coach Verb (graduate assistant Andrew Verboys) actually had called me. I never got offered by Kentucky in high school. I never thought about it, actually, because it’s too cold. I thought I’d never come up here,” Cottrell said at his first UK media opportunity.
“Coach Verb had called me. He was like, ‘Man, I really want to get you up here. I think this is the place for you.’ Throughout the process, you hear coaches say that all the time. So I’m like I’m gonna give coach Verb a chance.
“I came up here, instantly right off the bat, I loved it. It was amazing. There were words that I couldn’t even explain. It was really amazing for me. I really appreciate (coach Mark) Stoops.”
The 6-3, 210-pound Cottrell had 43 catches for 651 yards and nine touchdowns as a high school senior in Milton, Fla., after making 63 catches for 985 yards and eight scores as a junior. He was a consensus four-star recruit and ranked as the nation’s 30th best receiver in the 247sports composite rankings.
He verbally committed to Florida on July 30, 2021, when then head coach Dan Mullen was fired he flipped his commitment to Georgia but then decommitted from the Bulldogs on Jan. 2, 2023.
“Towards the end, I see something wrong that I don’t like. I call it off,” Cottrell said about his decision not to sign with Georgia. “Every time that I was about to commit and go to that school, there was always something that just tweaked my mind a little bit. God was telling me something like, ‘Hey, just wait a second, just wait a little bit longer.’”
He signed with Texas A&M the same day he decommitted from Georgia.
“I got a call from the receivers coach from Texas A&M (James Coley). We talked it out. I go up there, family oriented. I like it. I love it,” Cottrell said.
A foot injury limited him to three games and just one catch for 13 yards in his only season at Texas A&M. He was the first Texas A&M player to enter the transfer portal when Fisher got fired.
“Towards the end of the year I wasn’t getting what I came there to play for,” Cottrell said. “So I decided to make my decision to leave one more time.”
What can Cottrell bring to the Kentucky offense?
“I’m a big guy. I’m a big target. I know I’m a deep threat,” Cottrell said. “When it comes to the size and the speed, If I had to compare myself to anybody in the NFL, Julio Jones. That’s my favorite. I know everybody’s like, ‘Oh, but I’ve been watching that guy since I was a little kid.’ I try to mock everything he does and hopefully y’all can see that this year.”
Jones is a former Alabama standout who has been in the NFL since 2011 and has 914 catches for 13,703 yards and 66 touchdowns along with 19 rushing touchdowns in 166 career games.
Cottrell was recruited by then UK offensive coordinator Liam Coen but has had no second thoughts about coming to UK since Coen’s departure to the NFL again. Cottrell posted on social media he was a “Wildcat for life” after Coen left.
Kentucky had already added a new receivers coach, Daikiel Shorts, 10 days after Cottrell committed to UK.
“He is a very straight forward guy. You could tell when he first came in that he wanted us to figure it out. He is not the type of guy to slap you on the butt and tell you good job,” Cottrell said. “He is very rarely going to say anything good about you. He is going to pick on the bad things but that’s good. That is what I wanted from a coach to get better.”
Cottrell has a definite plan for his future at Kentucky.
“My goal is to become a better man and player. I have four long years here, so I plan on graduating from here,” Cottrell said. “Being at Kentucky was probably the best decision I possibly ever made. You can tell from the academics all the way to football. Everybody on the staff is amazing.”
Cottrell said he has always been a “family guy” and is glad that was a big part of his reason for picking Kentucky.
“When I first got here you could tell the guys really love each other and that makes being here very, very special,” Cottrell said.