Clearwater Central Catholic athlete CJ Cotman, a 5-foot-10, 176-pound rising sophomore, combines quickness and speed with strength and durability as an all-purpose offensive threat. Last season, the Marauders brought him along slowly. Cotman, though, eventually surfaced as the team's biggest game breaker, finishing with 1,163 all-purpose yards and was a second-team selection to MaxPreps' national all-freshman team. Cotman has parlayed his exhilarating performance into a more prominent role, with the coaches entrusting him to deliver the same type of big plays on a more consistent basis this fall. Colleges also have taken notice. Cotman has offers from four schools, including Central Florida and Kentucky. Cotman talked to the Tampa Bay Times about his increased playing time, attention from colleges and pressure to get back to the Class 3A state championship game.
How much more involved will you be with the offense in the fall?
"I think it will be big. We lost a lot of playmakers, like running back Diquan Walker and receiver Blake Gomez. I'm sure I'll be used in a lot of ways, but the biggest increase will probably be at running back."
Of the college scholarship offers you have so far, which one surprised you the most?
"I'd have to say Kentucky. I didn't expect it. The coaches wanted to introduce themselves this spring. Then they said they had been following me for a while, were impressed with how I played. And gave me an offer right on the spot. I didn't even know they were looking at me that much."
How much pressure is there to get back to the title game after losing 34-7 to Jacksonville Trinity Christian in the final last year?
"I don't think we felt it because we all feel confident we can get there. We lost a couple of seniors, but we think we still have enough to be pretty successful. Nothing's changed as far as that. I know I'm going to play to the best of my ability to help us get there."
Bob Putnam, Times staff writer