News began to circulate Thursday that Cotton, who could possibly have been the Rebels’ starting quarterback this year, was considering a transfer, presumably to up-start program South Alabama.
Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt never closed the door on Cotton’s future Friday, but never spoke in positive terms about where he thought the process was heading.
Saturday morning Cotton made it official, and the school sent an e-mail confirming his decision.
“Raymond has decided to leave the university, and we wish him nothing but the best,” Nutt said in the news release.
Cotton was set to enter August camp as the No. 2 quarterback behind third-year sophomore Nathan Stanley.
However, given Stanley’s own inexperience – he appeared in only five games last year – Cotton had a chance to compete for the starting job.
“It’s not like one guy has a lot of experience,” Nutt said.
Stanley won the job in the spring with his own performance but benefited by the fact that Cotton missed some practices and was limited in others with a shoulder injury. The shoulder is better and is not a factor in Cotton’s decision to leave.
Junior college transfer Randall Mackey from state champion East Mississippi, who just joined the team in the summer, jumps to No. 2 on the depth chart.
A very athletic player, Nutt had planned to use Mackey in a variety of ways, perhaps at wide receiver. The sudden lack of depth at quarterback could cause Nutt to re-think how he uses Mackey.
“I am happy to have Nathan and Randall, and they’ve been there working really, really hard,” Nutt said. “You have to go with the ones you’ve got.”
Behind Mackey are walk-ons Evan Ingram and Witt Haggard.
Ingram (6-2, 205) played last season at Hargrave where Rivals.com rated him a three-star prospect. He enrolled at Ole Miss in January.
He played high school ball in New Orleans at traditional power John Curtis where he was a part of four state-championship teams.
Haggard was a three-time private school all-state quarterback at Lamar School in Meridian where he put up monster numbers for long-time coach Mac Barnes.
Nutt could also reconsider his stance with former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
Masoli, a dual threat quarterback, was dismissed at Oregon after more than one scrape with the law. Masoli’s attorney, Daniel Koenig, says his client has paid $613 in fines for marijuana possession and other charges stemming from a June 7 traffic stop.
Koenig told the Portland, Ore., newspaper that Masoli had completed his undergraduate work, something that would allow him to enter graduate school and be eligible for the 2010 season.
Masoli has expressed interest in attending Ole Miss, but the most recent school school listed as his possible destination is UNLV.
A year ago Nutt extended a second chance to former Florida player Jamar Hornsby, who had legal problems in Gainesville. Hornsby was arrested on an assault charge in Starkville and was eventually dismissed.
Rebel QB depth chart
- Nathan Stanley: Appeared in only five games last year with most action coming in the Cotton Bowl.
- Randall Mackey: Junior College transfer from East Mississippi who led the Lions to first-ever state title with explosive speed.
- Evan Ingram: Walk-on in January. Played at Hargrave Academy after four years at John Curtis in New Orleans.
- Witt Haggard: Walk-on from Lamar School in Meridian. Private-school all-star with huge stats and big arm.