Lester Cotton was so eager to sign with The University of Alabama, he nearly forgot to formally announce the school’s name before placing the script “A” hat on his head and putting pen to paper.

Not too surprising for a Tuscaloosa native who grew up rooting for the hometown team.

The four-star offensive lineman completed a decision made long ago when he signed his national letter of intent to play for the Crimson Tide in front of family, coaches, faculty, teammates and classmates inside Central High School’s auditorium Wednesday morning.

“I was always an Alabama fan,” Cotton said. “I knew that’s where I was going to go.”

Wednesday’s signing officially ends the recruitment period for one of Alabama’s surest signees. Central is located less than a mile away from both Bryant-Denny Stadium and the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility where Cotton’s LOI was faxed.

“It’s a blessing,” Cotton said. “It means a lot for me to stay at home because I can stay and help my family and because I’m not that far away.”

Cotton verbally committed to Alabama last February shortly after impressing at the school’s Junior Day and never wavered in his decision.

Cotton, who was born in Tuscaloosa, moved to East St. Louis, Illinois when he was 8 before returning to his hometown as a high school freshman at Central in the spring of 2012. But even during his time away, Cotton still watched the Crimson Tide play on television. He named the 2014 Iron Bowl and former right tackle D.J. Fluker as his favorite Alabama moment and idol, respectively.

“That was really exciting for me because both teams were going at it, and Alabama, they really stepped up,” Cotton said about a game the Crimson Tide won 55-44. “I saw a whole lot of leadership out there.”

Cotton, who also held offers from Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, USC, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, joins 23 other signees in making up Alabama’s 2015 class. According to 247Sports and ESPN, the class ranks No. 1 in the nation.

And for the players, that’s special.

“It means a lot to me because the class that’s with me, they really took me in as a brother and I took them in as brothers,” Cotton said. “The ones that were older, I took in as big brothers. We communicate more than I communicate with a lot of people that I know. So we’re going to be real close when I get in college.”

Cotton even believes Alabama's latest class has the potential to live up to other great ones of recent years, as the Crimson Tide looks to return to the national championship after a two-year drought.

“We’re going to do our thing. We’re going to put in work,” he said. “We’re going to be just like the ’08 class.”

It wouldn't be the first time he's followed through on a long-term commitment.

 

Watch Cotton sign his national letter of intent, post-signing interviews with him and his coach, and a pre-signing interview live on Tide 99.1 with Ryan Fowler minutes before the ceremony.