AMES — ISU’s “general” at safety, Kamari Cotton-Moya, has endured more than his fair share of bad breaks.
From being shot before stepping foot in campus, to experiencing a scary head injury during spring ball, to now possibly being out for the season with a serious hamstring injury, life has teemed with adversity for the 2014 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
But here’s a silver lining: Cotton-Moya’s healing process is going well. He’s convinced he’ll play again this season after a painful, yet non-contact hamstring issue caused him to writhe on the practice field last week.
In short, Cotton-Moya’s being Cotton-Moya: Tough and ahead of schedule, but still a long shot to play again in 2015.
“I’m actually encouraged by Kamari right now and the progress that’s been made in six days,” Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads said. “He went from walking stiff-legged to now his normal walking gait, you couldn’t tell. So he’s probably surprising the medical staff as well. So there’s an outside chance, but he’s still got a long ways to go.”
Cotton-Moya expressed even more short-term optimism than his coach. When asked if he could play again this season, he responded thusly:
“Oh, yeah, 100 percent,” ISU’s fourth-leading tackler said. “We have one of the best training staffs in the nation and with the work I’m doing right now … every day I’m showing progress.”
Cotton-Moya said the injury brought excrutiating pain.
“It hurt so much that I didn’t know what to think,” he said. “I just really thought I was done for the season.”
Still could be, but he’s working to prevent that from happening.
“Coach Rhoads told me, he was like, ‘No time to be depressed, no time to be down,’” Cotton-Moya said. “And I told him I’m going to attack it good.”
LAZARD COULD PLAY: Rhoads said leading wide receiver Allen Lazard’s shoulder has improved to the point that it’s possible he could play Saturday against Texas (6 p.m., FS1).
“He actually was out running around and catching some balls — not in pads, not taking any hits,” Rhoads said. “He won’t take a hit until Saturday. But the training staff’s opinion this morning is he’ll play.”
KICKERS ARE “DEAD EVEN:” Junior Cole Netten and walk-on redshirt freshman Chris Francis have both performed well in the early stages of what’s planned to be a week-long kicking competition. “We just finished up with three kicks each and the net wasn’t down,” Rhoads said. “I would think Cole barely inched in the one and they both finished up 3-for-3 with an ornery crowd of football players around them as they did it. So I think with a total of 11 kicks, I think we’re dead even right now.”
STITCHES FOR THE DC: Wally Burnham blamed himself for the worst injury he’s ever sustained coaching players up on the sidelines. What happened? “He got cleated,” Rhoads said.
How many stitches were required to seal the slice Tuesday afternoon? Twenty, according to Rhoads. Fifteen, said Burnham.
Potato, potato — but a nasty gash either way.
“I was standing behind the wrong guy,” Burnham said. “We were doing a tackling drill and he stepped backwards and got me in my shin and made a little cut there. I’m good.”
Apparently so. Moments later he was back at it.
“Didn’t miss a beat,” Rhoads said. “He was right back out there as soon as the last stitch was tied and coaching like the devil.”
Remember, Wally Burnham once played for Paul “Bear” Bryant. But was he angered by the wound?
“No,” he said with a laugh. “Because it was my fault. I was standing right behind him trying to tell him what to do in the drill and the kid just stepped back like that and the cleat got me. So it wasn’t anyone’s fault, really — except my own, probably.”