Iowa State senior safety Kamari Cotton-Moya returns for what should be a big senior season in Ames.
AMES, Ia. — Shame on you, whoever started the “Kamari Cotton Moya is leaving Iowa State football” chatter. The only place he’s going is into summer football workouts with the goal of becoming the best safety he can be.
“I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been,” said Cotton-Moya, who was withheld from the spring game to protect his once-injured shoulder. “It’s been a grind, and I’m going to keep grinding and going strong until I get to the end.
“It’s a never-ending process.”
He’s a senior. He’s already played three seasons. He needs one more course next fall to graduate. He’s not going anywhere — whether it be to another school or into the working world.
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“I really hadn’t heard that I was going anyplace,” he told The Register. “I’m not going anywhere.”
The redshirt senior-to-be has started 27 of his 29 career games, second on the team to Allen Lazard’s 32. He has the most starts among defensive players.
Table for one somewhere other than a football field?
I strongly doubt it.
“Kamari has been all-in with us,” coach Matt Campbell said.
Will he be in an Iowa State uniform in the fall?
Absolutely, Campbell has told me a couple times since the spring game.
Cotton-Moya has been a captain. He’s a guy to whom the younger players look up. He knows the Big 12 Conference.
“He weighs 200-plus,” Campbell said. “A year ago, he was almost 190. He looks great and he’ll look even better when practice starts up again.
“You continue to see a guy who continues to buy in, and how really valuable that is.”
His pick-six in the 55-point blowout of Texas Tech last season was Iowa State’s first defensive touchdown since linebacker Jevohn Miller returned a fumble 51-yards at Texas in 2014.
He was a second-team all-Big 12 Conference selection last fall. He was a first-team freshman all-American in 2014.
“All-in? Yeah, I’m all-in,” Cotton-Moya said during our on-field conversation at the spring game. “I’ve still got some things to accomplish.”
When quarterback Kyle Starcevich took a knee after this years Iowa State spring game, it wasn’t the coach he was looking up too. The redshirt junior asked his girlfriend of five years for her hand in marriage.
Iowa State hasn’t been to a bowl game since the 2012 Liberty — a year before Cotton-Moya arrived in Ames.
He’s one of nine from that 25-player Class of 2013 who’s still around. He’s one of seven from that class with potential to start this season, joining Jake Campos, Joel Lanning, Vernell Trent, J.D. Waggoner, Robbie Garcia and Trever Ryen.
Cotton-Moya would have already left by now… if he was going to leave.
“He’s a good player. He’s a good guy,” former Iowa State defensive back Leonard Johnson told The Register two weeks ago. “I like him.”
Johnson, an NFL veteran, was among the former Iowa State stars Campbell invited to campus recently. He talked to the defensive backs, including Cotton-Moya.
“Leonard’s been in my ear a lot since I’ve been at this school,” Cotton-Moya said. “He’s always telling me to be grinding. Jeremiah Georges and Jacques Washington have been telling me that, too.”
They’re also former Iowa State stars who know a good player — like Cotton-Moya — when they see one.
“He’s been the leader back there,” Campbell said.
Cotton-Moya is a hard-hitter, possibly the toughest tackler on the team. He’s had concussion-like symptoms. He’s recovered from a shoulder injury.
“I haven’t had that many injuries,” Cotton-Moya said. “The concussion stuff hasn’t ever held me back. My shoulder is good. I’m ready to play.”
Kamari Cotton-Moya giving up football?
Shame on you.
Randy Peterson, senior sports reporter, has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @RandyPete