Nathan Cottrell committed to Georgia Tech on June 9th, 2014, just one day after Christian Philpott, becoming the Yellow Jackets' fifth commitment within a week and eighth commitment overall in the class. He did so after turning a few heads by running a blazing 4.33-second 40-yard dash. But before you go questioning the timer, well...
Cottrell ran a 4.33 at Georgia Tech's camp today, a day after running a 4.33 and 4.36 at MTSU. He ran 4.36 at Duke, 4.3 at Wofford.— PrepXtra (@prepxtra) June 9, 2014
So, yeah...dude's pretty quick. He committed shortly after returning home from one of Georgia Tech's summer camps. When asked what made him pull the trigger, Cottrell told me, "I talked to my family and coaches about it for at least 2 hours before I made my final decision. I just kept hearing I won't get a better opportunity. The academics are the best of the best and it's D-I football. I couldn't ask for more. I love the offense they run and I feel like I fit in it really well." Sounds like a guy with full appreciation of what Georgia Tech has to offer.
As a Recruit
Cottrell committed to Georgia Tech over offers from Cincinnati and Air Force, as well as Ivy League schools Princeton and Brown. Many Yellow Jacket fans were concerned at first that the Knoxville native might catch the attention of the hometown Tennessee Volunteers and be swooped away, but Cottrell knew what he wanted. When asked if other schools tried to get involved down the stretch, he said, "Not really. Most other schools that were recruiting me knew how strong my verbal was." In other words, Cottrell made his commitment and was proud of it, and wasn't about to let other schools try to talk him out of it. The 5'10", 183-pound speedster was rated a 3-star recruit by Rivals (5.5) and the 247Sports Composite (.8260).
As you'd expect, the biggest thing Cottrell's film shows is his speed. When he gets into the open field, he's constantly picking up big chunks of yards very quickly. Another thing I noticed was his vision. Cottrell does a nice job of using his speed in combination with his vision to make smart moves, extend plays and get as much as he can each time he gets the ball. Also worth noting is that, for a running back of his stature, Cottrell does a nice job of using that vision to run between the tackles. While he's not a noticeably physical runner, he doesn't shy away from contact either and has nice balance to keep him on his feet. Cottrell is very much a north-south kind of runner with the ability to shake a defender with impressive speed and agility.
The one thing that I didn't see much of in his film is comfort with catching the ball, particularly down field. In Georgia Tech's offense, that's occasionally a major function of the A-Back position, and something to monitor down the road as Cottrell gets into his career on the Flats.
What to Expect
Cottrell is entering the scene at a time when there's room on the A-Back depth chart that needs filling, and there's a real possibility that he's one who gets that shot. As it stands, there are 4 returning A-Backs, leaving another spot or two open to a true freshman. Cottrell is one I can see playing as a true freshman, and the reason is his versatility. Not only is he a great athlete with elite speed, but he's also got the ability to return kicks and punts should the coaches want to try him out there. It's going to be hard for any incoming A-Back to learn to block to the level that they'll need to in order to play at the beginning of the season, but Cottrell's ability to contribute on special teams might be the thing that gets him over the hump and into the rotation this fall. For my money, I think it happens that we see him in action this year.
Welcome to Georgia Tech, Nathan! Excited to see what you can do on the Flats!
Thoughts on Cottrell's film? Excited about his athleticism? Expect him to play early?