Cotton was one of seven Huskers to play the entire 2012 season as a graduate student after earning his degree in December of 2011. He was also one of 28 Huskers to be named academic All-Big Ten in 2012. The selection puts Cotton in an elite class of Nebraska football players who have been four-time academic all-conference selections during their career. Cotton was joined on the Nebraska roster by his two younger brothers, Jake, an offensive lineman and Sam, a tight end.
Southern Miss: Was one of 10 receivers to catch a ball on the day, as he hauled in one catch for five yards. UCLA: Started against the Bruins, but did not record a catch. Arkansas State: Started against ASU and caught one ball for six yards. Idaho State: Grabbed one ball for four yards... was one of 10 Huskers to catch a pass on the day. Wisconsin: Tied a then-career high with 36 yards on two grabs... had a season-long grab of 26 yards in the third quarter came on a drive that ended with a FG from Brett Maher that tied the game, 27-27... 26-yard grab was two yards shy of tying his 28-yard catch at Wisconsin in 2011. Ohio State: Had a three-yard TD reception in the third quarter for his second career touchdown reception, and first since a 2009 TD catch at Colorado in his redshirt freshman season... had two receptions on the night for 19 yards. Northwestern: Had only one catch, but was one of the biggest catches of the season as it was a seven-yard TD grab that completed NU's 29-28 comeback win... was his second TD reception of the season and the third of his career. Michigan: Caught two passes for 21 yards... was one of nine receivers to catch a ball. Michigan State: Caught one pass for six yards.
Penn State: Caught one ball for 18 yards in the third quarter that moved the Huskers into PSU territory. Minnesota: Played in his 50th career game at Nebraska in his final game at Memorial Stadium... notched one tackle on special teams, his fourth career tackle. Iowa: Went over 400 career receiving yards with a career-high tying three catches for a career-high 39 yards, both team highs... marked the third time in his career he has caught three passes and bettered his previous high of 36 yards at Northwestern in 2011. Wisconsin (Big Ten Championship): Was one of seven receivers to catch a ball... hauled in one reception for nine yards. Georgia (Capital One Bowl): Caught two passes for 69 yards, including a career-long 56-yard reception in the first quarter... 69 yards were also a career best for Cotton.
Cotton's career-long 28-yard catch at Wisconsin set up a second-quarter touchdown. He added two catches each against Minnesota and Michigan State before tying his career high with three catches for a career-high 36 yards against Northwestern. Cotton had a 17-yard catch before being injured at Penn State. The shoulder injury caused him to miss the next two games, but he returned to start against South Carolina, and had one catch for 22 yards.
Cotton played in every game with a start at Baylor. He had five receptions for 43 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown at Colorado. Cotton had three catches for 33 yards against CU, and had single receptions against Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State. Cotton also scored a touchdown against Louisiana-Lafayette by recovering a Roy Helu Jr. fumble in the end zone. Cotton also served on Nebraska's kickoff return unit.
He was the team's only two-way starter, also lining up at defensive end. Cotton missed six games because of injury in 2006, but still had 10 receptions. He first started as a sophomore and earned second-team all-conference honors. Cotton was a two-year starter in basketball and qualified for the state track meet in the discus. He was also a pitcher and center fielder in baseball, earning honorable-mention all-conference honors in 2008. Cotton chose Nebraska over offers from Louisville, Iowa, Kansas, Iowa State and Wisconsin.
Cotton is a three-time member of the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team and was chosen as one of Nebraska's Student-Athlete HERO Leadership Award winners across all sports in the spring of 2011. He has volunteered his time and volunteered his time at School is Cool Week, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, team hospital and elementary school visits. His father, Barney, played for the Huskers from 1975 to 1978.