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Published on May 27, 2024
Longhorns Football Legend and Texas Athletics Hall of Honor Inductee Mike Cotten Passes Away at 84Source: Corpx, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Mike Cotten, an esteemed quarterback for the University of Texas Longhorns and a decorated Vietnam veteran, died Saturday at 84 following a brief illness, KXAN reported.

Cotten's tenure as a starter from 1959-61 was marked by a stellar 17-4-1 record, leading the Longhorns under coach Darrell K Royal's guidance to significant victories. His skill set extended beyond the gridiron, he also shined as a defensive back during his versatile college career. His athletic prowess earned him a place in the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor in 1981, according to TexasSports.com.

Before Cotten's Longhorns legacy, he was a standout at Austin High, leading the Maroons to the state semifinals. His talent began to flourish upon enrolling at Texas, where he quarterbacked the freshman team to an unbeaten season for the first time since 1941. His contributions to Texas football were pivotal, sharing quarterback duties with Bobby Lackey and securing a top national ranking during his early years on the team.

Cotten's drive led him to become a co-captain and a 1961 All-Southwest Conference selection, leading the SWC in passing touchdowns with seven. Despite a crushing upset by TCU during his senior year, Cotten's leadership and resolve carried the Longhorns to a final No. 3 national ranking and a triumphant victory in the 1962 Cotton Bowl against Ole Miss.

After his football career, Cotten took his tenacity to the field of law, graduating from the UT Law School in 1965. His dedication to service continued through a three-year tenure as a US Marine Corps captain, including duty in Vietnam. Returning to civilian life, Cotten joined the Austin law firm Clark and Thomas in 1968 becoming a partner by 1975. He was also among the founders of the Stadium Veterans Committee, a testament to his ongoing commitment to his fellow service members and the community.

Cotten is mourned by his loving family, including daughters Ashley Putman and Lesley Childress. His legacy is not confined to football or service records; it is etched in the hearts of the Longhorn faithful and the generations of Texans inspired by his dedication to his state, his team, and his country.