Class of 2018 South Medford wide receiver Chase Cota is the highest-rated prospect in the state of Oregon since Thomas Tyner (No. 20) in 2013.

And his travel schedule is already beginning to reflect that fact.

Despite not yet having begun his sophomore year, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound pass-catcher spent last week traveling to both the University of Alabama and the University of Notre Dame on unofficial visits.

The first stop on the tour was Tuscaloosa, where Cota and his uncle spent nine hours checking out the campus and taking in football drills.

For the budding star receiver, the highlight was his chance to speak to Alabama coach Nick Saban.

“I got to meet Nick Saban right before practice. I got to talk to him on the field and catch up with him,” he said. “It was pretty sweet because he’s one of the biggest names in football.”

That trip led to an invitation to take an unofficial visit in the fall to see a game, which is something that intrigues Cota, the son of early-to-mid-90’s Oregon great Chad Cota.

The next stop of the itinerary was a trip to South Bend.

“Notre Dame was amazing – from the academics and the campus to really good football and a lot of tradition,” he said. “I liked it a lot. There was no practice, but it was cool because I got to spend more time with the coaches.”

That afforded Cota the opportunity to meet defensive backs coach Todd Lyght, whose recruiting area includes Oregon and who said he will be in touch with the dynamic receiver.

The entire experience was eye-opening for the long-time Oregon Ducks fans, who considered himself a lock early.

“I think it’s kind of a blessing. If Oregon did offer me, I might’ve committed early,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to check out all the other stuff. Brady (Breeze) and my whole family likes Oregon, but now I have a bunch of options and I like being able to play the field a little bit more.”

Still, the Ducks will be tough to beat.

“My dad had season tickets, so I’d go to almost every game,” he said. “I remember when I was in the fourth grade and Brady was in the sixth grade we both had our Ducks jerseys on and walked into the game playing catch and dreamed about playing there.”

Another program that has jumped into the mix is Oregon State, the lone program to offer Cota thus far.

“I’m definitely planning on going to a couple of games. I want to see Coach Brennan again – and Coach Baldwin and Coach Andersen. I miss all those guys,” he explained. “It was my first offer, I love Reser Stadium and it’s real close to home.”

Cota knows he has to keep working to wrangle up more offers, but he’s excited by the prospect of having new interest from around the country.

“It’s pretty crazy to me, but it’s pretty cool that it’s early,” he said.  

— Andrew Nemec

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