Junior defensive end Bryce Cottrell ran down Iowa State quarterback Joel Lanning and brought him to the ground for a sack. The sack was a bright spot in the Longhorns’ 24-0 loss Saturday.
Cottrell’s stat line doesn’t pop, but he’s slowly aiding the defensive line’s improvement. The 6-foot-2-inches, 253-pound edge-rusher has recorded four tackles for loss and two sacks over the last three games.
Cottrell’s teammates aren’t surprised. They said they’ve noticed the work the Plano native puts in during practice. Senior cornerback Duke Thomas said Cottrell has invested himself more this season.
“Just like a lot of guys on our team going into this season, [Cottrell] flipped the switch,” Thomas said. “He’s definitely seeing the field a lot more. He’s making a lot more plays. His work ethic has been a reflection of that.”
Head coach Charlie Strong said defensive line improvements such as Cottrell’s play aid the defense.
“Even on defense, [we’re] controlling the line of scrimmage where they’re just not going up and down the field,” Strong said on Oct. 26. “[We’re] getting some pressure.”
Cottrell came to Texas in 2012 as a three-star recruit, according to Scout.com. Hezsearned all-state honors and was a two-time first-team all-district player at linebacker and defensive end during his career at Plano West High School. But Cottrell hasn’t seen the field much during his three seasons at Texas. He redshirted his first season and played in just 20 games before 2015. Through them all, he amassed 12 total tackles and one sack.
This season, Cottrell has already recorded 20 total tackles and two sacks. Junior defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway said he’s not surprised to see
“I’ve been saying [Cottrell] is going to be a great player since he got here,” Ridgeway said. “I’ve been telling everyone about him. He’s a great player. In practice, he’s always playing hard, always getting the quarterback. [The] coaches have to tell him to stay off the quarterback. Just that he’s been going out there and showing everybody else what he can do.”
But Cottrell said after Texas’ loss to the Cyclones, he needs to keep playing hard. Opponents, Cottrell said, will continue to give the Longhorns their best.
“It’s college football,” Cottrell said. “Everyone is going to be physical week in and week out.”
With four guaranteed games remaining, Cottrell looks to build off his strong start. Junior tight end Caleb Bluiett, who previously played defensive end with Cottrell, said he’s glad to see Cottrell succeeding.
“He’s a hard worker,” Blueitt said. “He doesn’t stop. He pretty much does everything right. Just in the past, he had older guys in front of him. But he’s a great player, great athlete and works hard. I’m really happy for him.”