Honors & Awards
» 2016 Nebraska Husker Pride Award
» Academic All-Big Ten (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
» Big Ten Sportsmanship Award (2016)
» Five-Time Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll
» Brook Berringer Citizenship Team (2014, 2016)
» Tom Osborne Citizenship Team (2014, 2016)

Sam Cotton saw extensive action at tight end in each of his four seasons in the Nebraska program. He was one of three veteran seniors to anchor the position in 2016, and closed his career with an excellent senior campaign. Cotton played in 49 games during his career and made 23 starts at tight end. 

The 6-5, 250-pound Cotton provided a big receiving target throughout his Husker career, while also providing a physical blocking presence at the point of attack. Off the field, Cotton was a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, and earned his degree in marketing/business administration in December.

Cotton was the youngest of three brothers to play for Nebraska, joining older brothers Ben and Jake, who have completed their NU eligibility, while their father, Barney, also played and coached at Nebraska.

2016 (Senior)
Cotton played in all 13 games and made 11 starts at tight end. During his senior season he caught eight passes for 87 yards. Cotton played the best football of his career at midseason when fellow senior Cethan Carter was sidelined with an injury. Cotton had a career-high three receptions for a career-high 37 yards at Indiana, including a season-long 17-yard reception. A week later he matched his career high with three catches against Purdue, totaling 27 yards. 

2015 (Junior)
Cotton played in all 13 games with seven starts at tight end. He finished the season with three catches for 35 yards, with single receptions against Miami, Southern Miss and a season-long 14-yard grab vs. Iowa.

2014 (Sophomore)

Cotton played in all 13 games making starts against Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue and Minnesota. He had three receptions for 41 yards, including two touchdowns. Cotton had a 10-yard catch in the opener against Florida Atlantic and had a 23-yard touchdown grab at Fresno State. He added an eight-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter against Rutgers.

2013 (Redshirt Freshman)
Cotton played in 10 games, including a start against Purdue. He caught three passes for 22 yards, with a three-yard touchdown catch at Minnesota. He had a season-long 17-yard catch against Illinois and also had a reception at Purdue.

2012 (Redshirt)
Cotton sat out his first season in the program as a redshirt.

Before Nebraska (Southeast HS)
Cotton played a key role in helping Southeast earn a Class A state title in 2011. The Knights finished with a 12-1 record, including a 21-9 victory over Omaha Burke in the state title game, when Cotton caught a 34-yard touchdown pass.

As a senior, Cotton had 23 receptions, including seven touchdowns. He also played defensive line for Coach Ryan Gottula’s team and made 42 tackles, including 7.5 sacks. Cotton earned first-team All-Nebraska honors from the Omaha World-Herald as a defensive lineman, and he was an honorary captain of that team. The Lincoln Journal Star also named him a co-captain of its Super State team, but listed him as a first-team selection at tight end.

As a junior, Cotton helped Southeast to a 10-2 record and a trip to the Class A semifinals. He was an honorable-mention all-state pick by both major newspapers as a junior. Cotton was ranked among the top four players in the state of Nebraska in the class of 2012. Cotton also competed in the shot put and discus for Southeast. Cotton committed to Nebraska in June of 2011, and did not take any other visits.

The son of Barney and Christine Cotton, Sam was born on Jan. 27, 1994. He was a business administration/marketing major and a five-time Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll selection. He earned his bachelor's degree in December of 2016. He has volunteered his time with the NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 Event, Uplifting Athletes, Husker Heroes, the Lincoln Marathon and school and hospital visits. He has been named to both the Brook Berringer Citizenship Team and Tom Osborne Citizenship Team twice for his outreach efforts. His father earned three letters for the Huskers from 1975 to 1978 as both an offensive and defensive lineman.

Cotton's Career Stats












10/1 3 22 7.3 2.2 17 vs. Illinois
2014 13/4 3 41 13.7 3.2 23 vs. Rutgers




35 11.7


14 vs. Iowa




87 10.9


17 at Indiana





185 10.9


23 vs. Rutgers


Single-Game Highs 
» Receptions – 3, at Indiana, vs. Purdue (2016)
» Receiving Yards – 37, at Indiana (2016)
» Touchdowns – 1, three times