If it wasn’t for Curtis Bray, J.D. Waggoner said he would’ve never made it to Iowa State. Waggoner didn't garner the attention of many college coaches, but Bray noticed him.
“He’s one of the guys who took a shot on me -- him and (former ISU head) coach (Paul) Rhoads,” Waggoner said. “I owe it all to him.”
It’s become tradition at ISU for a defensive lineman to wear the No. 58 in honor of Bray, who passed away on Jan. 15, 2014, from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 43.
It’s the same number Bray wore when he played at Pittsburgh. Former Cyclones defensive end Cory Morrissey started the tradition later that season. Once he left, he passed Bray’s number to Mitchell Meyers, who then passed it on to Waggoner for this coming season.
“It’s the greatest honor I could ever have,” Waggoner said. “To be in the company of Mitch, Cory -- the guys that wore it before me -- I’m definitely going to wear that with a lot of pride and honor him the right way.”
Waggoner and Bray’s relationship as player and coach only lasted for less than a year. Waggoner arrived in the fall of 2013 and redshirted his initial year.
Months later, Bray was gone. Waggoner remembers Bray as quiet, but knowledgeable, saying he learned a lot from his former coach.
“I definitely understood what he was about,” Waggoner said, “and I still take some of the teachings he taught me and apply them everyday.”
Waggoner isn’t sure who he’ll pass the number to next year. He and Vernell Trent are the last player-connections left to Bray.
Regardless, for his last season in Ames, Waggoner plans to do everything he can to honor the man who brought him to ISU.
“That’s how I want to go out,” Waggoner said.
Kamari Cotton-Moya back
Iowa State defensive backs coach D.K. McDonald said second-team All-Big 12 safety Kamari Cotton-Moya has been “flying around” in practice.
Cotton-Moya had shoulder surgery on Dec. 1.
“He’s healthy, which is really good” McDonald said. “I know at the end of the year last year he was a little banged up. But he’s healthy, he’s good, he’s flying around. To see him out in practice, is really good. He missed a couple earlier, but to see him out there now puts a big smile on my face.”
McDonald said Cotton-Moya has been limited in practice, but it’s been a choice made to preserve him for his senior season. McDonald expects Cotton-Moya’s last season to be a good one.
“Kamari is a playmaker,” McDonald said. “We’ve seen it for years here. Just expect him to take that to another level."