Photo: Raymond Cottrell; Credit: Zach Goodall
Raymond Cottrell knew he was a Florida Gator over a month ago. He just didn't know when to make the news official.
The 2023 wide receiver prospect from Milton (Fla.) impressed the Gators coaching staff in a camp workout in late June, and openly considered committing on the spot. That led Cottrell to return to UF's Friday Night Lights camp on July 30, where he once again stood out among the crowd and ultimately decided to shut things down.
"I already knew I was going there. I already had that set in my mind, I just didn't know what day," Cottrell told AllGators on Friday. "So I talked to my parents and stuff. And then they [UF] asked me to come Friday Night Lights, so I was like, 'Okay, I'll talk to my mom and dad.' They was like, 'Okay, let's do it.'
"And then after the camp, I went to [wide receivers] coach [Billy] Gonzales and then I went to [recruiting assistant] coach [Chase] Clark, I told him I was committed. And so, obviously, they were happy. Then I went to the big boss, [head coach] Dan Mullen, and he was pretty excited. I'm just excited to be a Gator."
Cottrell, 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, credited Gonzales and fellow Panhandle product, current Gators receiver Jacob Copeland, as the primary reasons for his Florida commitment.
In Gonzales, Cottrell knows a coach that can produce NFL talent like no other, and Cottrell believes that he offers the potential and skill-set to become one of Florida's next pro receivers. Copeland, meanwhile, has inspired Cottrell by finding success after hailing from an area that, as Cottrell describes, doesn't see many talented individuals make it out of.
"When I was talking to [Copeland] he was saying, 'Hey bro, if you really wanted to do this, if you really want to do that, but I advise you to come here. It's a really good place. Yeah, okay, you could talk about the Alabama's and Notre Dame's and all of them. But Florida really is the place to be,' Cottrell shared.
"I wouldn't say me and him came from the same like, childhood type base. But like, I knew some of the things that he's been through, I was going through also," Cottrell continued. "So, I mean from him, going through what he went through and still getting out and still going to college and stuff, that really inspired me to get out. And he really inspired me to be a Gator."
Cottrell's camp performances have wowed Florida's staff, combining his size, speed and physicality to consistently make plays against opposing defensive backs. Cottrell aims to get to Denver Broncos receiver Jerry Jeudy's level as a route runner, he said, but currently models his game after All-Pro Tennessee Titans receiver Julio Jones.
His skill-set and work ethic has specifically impressed Mullen, Cottrell proclaimed.
"He's excited, man," Cottrell said. "He just told me, he's like, 'Yeah, man, keep working. We're excited for you that you're a Gator, and we can't wait to get you back up here again."
When a prospect elects to commit this early in the process, a natural worry pops up that the recruit will visit other schools and continue to assess their options. Cottrell isn't that type of prospect, he says. He plans to keep his recruitment shut down and solely visit Florida moving forward, notably for the Alabama and FSU games this season, as a leader of Florida's 2023 haul.
"See, most kids do that. But I'm 100% committed so I probably won't go to any more schools. I'm gonna stay committed."
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