Perryville's Cottner unsure where he'll play with Redhawks

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Samuel listed the Pirates' standout running back as a cornerback.

Perryville's Kris Cottner signed to play football at Southeast Missouri State University on Wednesday after receiving a partial scholarship offer from the program.

Cottner, who played both running back and defensive back during his high school career for the Pirates, rushed for 1,157 yards on 221 carries and scored seven touchdowns this past fall.

He said he is not sure which position he will play, but instead emphasized that Southeast recruited him as an athlete.

"They are kind of recruiting me as an athlete," he said. "I can play a number of positions. They might try me at some running back, and possibly defensive back. And they possibly want to try to use me as a returner."

Southeast coach Tony Samuel emphasized Cottner's versatility.

"You can see him as a ball carrier, a returner as well, and also a defensive back," Samuel said. "I think he's a kid with a lot of capabilities and a lot of positions. Again, we wanted to improve on special teams. So he's one of those kids that can do that for us. Self-made man. His reputation is all about hard work and dedication."

Samuel said he does not know whether Cottner will receive playing time his first year.

"Kris is another kid being right close in Perryville, he can shoot down here and train with the team in the summer time, which would give him a huge advantage," Samuel said.

Cottner also received offers to play at Missouri State and Army, but he felt most comfortable with Southeast after a visit this past weekend.

"I was really impressed by the coaching staff," Cottner said. "They are great, genuine people working toward a common goal. And the fact that I wanted to play in front of family and friends [was part of the decision.] I wanted them to be at all my games and that was one of the main factors as well."

Cottner said all three offers he received came this winter after the football season ended. He said Southeast made an offer two weeks ago.

Cottner, listed at 5 foot 10, 190 pounds, grew up attending Southeast games with his father, Bill Cottner, and is thrilled to put on the Redhawks uniform.

"It's really exciting," he said. "I guess it was a dream of mine to play college football. Couple that with getting to play in front of family and friends in my hometown area of Southeast Missouri, that's a great achievement."

Cottner met some players this past weekend when he visited and said he thinks he will fit in well.

Cottner does not know what he will major in, but said he liked the academic programs at the school. Both his parents attended the university.

He does not know if he will play this upcoming fall.

"Those things have yet to be decided," he said. "When you get out on the practice field, that is when it is decided usually.

"I think this is a team that definitely is going to win some ballgames. There is a great group of guys who are all working hard in the offseason, and they have their mind set on a common goal to get out there and win. And that's the same thing I want to do."

Bluff linebacker signs

Another local player, Poplar Bluff linebacker Philip Klaproth, signed with Southeast on Wednesday.

"Physical linebacker," Samuel said about Klaproth. "We lost a key guy in [Adam] Casper. We needed to really bolster up the linebacking corps. We're going to lose some more next year. I like those kids who have a history of wrestling, and this kid was wrestling since he was in the third grade. And you can see the explosion. He explodes into contact.

"He's a very tough, physical football player. He's the kind of guy you just got to wait and see when he gets here what he's capable of and can he play early enough.

"But any time you get those type of kids -- those big, tough kids -- you immediately improve on special teams."

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