The Redhawks senior is hoping to expand on his special teams duties in 2011
Kris Cottner never had to look far for his choice of a college.
The Perryville High School graduate whose parents both attended Southeast knew where he wanted to continue his football and academic career once Southeast Missouri State began recruiting him.
"A lot of kids growing up have colleges they want to go to," Cottner said during Southeast's media day Tuesday. "SEMO was always at the top of my list. It's been a dream come true."
Cottner, a senior safety, hasn't been a star for the Redhawks, but he has been a solid special teams performer who is looking to make more of a mark on defense this year.
Above all, Cottner has been a valuable teammate.
"Kip's a great guy," said Southeast coach Tony Samuel, referring to Cottner by his nickname. "He's a great guy to have on the team. He's a hard worker and just wants to help out wherever he can."
While listed as a senior, Cottner likely will play for the Redhawks again next year. He missed all but two games of his freshman season with a knee injury in 2008 and is a virtual lock to be cleared by the NCAA for a final season of eligibility.
Cottner appeared in all 12 games last year, primarily on special teams. He recorded eight tackles and averaged 19.6 yards on seven kickoff returns when teams booted the ball away from All-American Henry Harris.
"I feel like I'll definitely play special teams again and help out wherever they need me, hopefully more at safety," said Cottner, who appeared in all 11 games in 2009. He recorded three tackles and returned three kickoffs for a 20-yard average.
Cottner, listed No. 2 on the current depth chart at strong safety, said he expects another big season from the Redhawks after last year's record-setting campaign.
"There is a positive energy around the team," he said.
A few major rules changes are in store for college football this year.
The two most significant ones are that there could be points taken off the scoreboard for taunting penalties and teams will have the option of shaving 10 seconds off the clock for penalties called in the final minute of each half.
Perhaps the biggest change is the implementation of the new taunting rule to nullify touchdowns if a player is called for taunting before he crosses the goal line.
Examples could include players finishing touchdown runs by high-stepping into the end zone or pointing the ball toward an opponent.
Previously, the 15-yard penalty was assessed on the extra-point attempt or ensuing kickoff. Penalties called after the player crosses the goal line still will be assessed on those plays, but live-ball fouls will be assessed at the spot of the foul and eliminate the score.
"That's a big change. That concerns me," Samuel said. "We've been talking about it to the players for two years because we knew it was coming."
Southeast has had very few taunting penalties during Samuel's five seasons, but the new rule makes it even more imperative that players don't celebrate too much.
"Knock on wood ... we discourage that kind of behavior. Act like you've been there before," Samuel said. "But you still have to talk about it. And defensive players, they're not used to having the ball much. They get excited."
The 10-second runoff, something the NFL has used for years, means college squads will have the option of taking the yardage and the time, the yardage only or declining the penalty.
"It can be an advantage depending on the situation of the game," Samuel said.
Another change is in how intentional grounding will be called. The penalty previously was called if the intended receiver did not have a reasonable opportunity to catch the pass.
The penalty now will be called only if a receiver is not in the area of the pass, a modification that more closely resembles the NFL rule.
Single-game tickets for the 2011 season are on sale.
Tickets for individual games can be purchased online at gosoutheast.com or by calling 651-2113. Tickets also are available at the Southeast athletic ticket office at 1221 Broadway.
Single-game tickets start at $8 for general admission. Reserved bleacher seats are $10 and a limited number of reserved seats in the chairback section are available for $15. Tickets for Southeast's Sept. 3 season opener against Southern Illinois will cost an additional $2 in each section.
Season tickets also are available. Season tickets are $42 for general admission and $54 for reserved bleacher seating. Chairback seats are $80 and require a minimum donation to the Southeast Booster Club that supports scholarships for athletes.
Additionally, season ticket discounts will be offered to seniors (age 62 and older) and Southeast faculty and staff.
There also is a new Redhawk Family Plan. For $444, families receive two adult general admission season tickets for both football and basketball, a pair of Rowdy's Kids Club memberships and $40 in Rowdy Bucks, which are valid at Houck Stadium and Houck Field House concession stands.
Rowdy's Kids Club memberships are good for free general admission to all Redhawks home events.
Season tickets for basketball also are available for purchase, although the 2011-12 schedules have not been released. Single-game basketball tickets go on sale Oct. 5.