AMES — Kamari Cotton-Moya spoke with characteristic confidence.
Two weeks ago — and one week into rehab of a severe hamstring injury — it appeared highly unlikely he’d play again this season.
But Iowa State’s all-Big 12 sophomore safety strongly disagreed with that presumption.
“I am going to go back out there,” he said at the time, “even if it’s the last game of the season.”
Now Cotton-Moya’s ahead of schedule.
Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads said after practice Wednesday that Cotton-Moya has been on the field for drills and is likely to return this season — perhaps even right after Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game against No. 5 Oklahoma State at Jack Trice Stadium.
“I think there’s a shot,” Rhoads said when asked about a possible Cotton-Moya return for the Nov. 21 game at Kansas State. “Yeah, I think there’s a shot for both Kansas State and West Virginia. I think there’s a good shot.”
Rhoads said Cotton-Moya must be at or near 100 percent before being thrust back into game play. Cotton-Moya, despite missing the past three games, ranks sixth on the team in tackles with 40, including 2.5 for loss.
“He’s got to be able to win,” Rhoads said. “That’s what it comes down to. … He can’t just play and be 75-80 percent back there. What he’s got to do on the field is be able to push and accelerate and cover guys and stop touchdowns. You can hide a guy in the ‘A’ gap a little bit. You can hide a guy on the edge and the boundary a little bit. You can’t hide a safety.”
Rhoads ruled offensive guard Daniel Burton (foot) out for the second straight week.
“He won’t play this week, but he’s making progress,” Rhoads said.