(Editor's note: University of Montana athletics release)
MISSOULA -- Head coach Bobby Hauck and his staff have bolstered Montana's defensive secondary with the addition of Omar Hicks Onu and TraJon Cotton, a pair of cornerbacks transferring to UM from Oregon State.
Hicks Onu, a 6-foot-1, 192-pound senior grad-transfer originally from Carrollton, Texas, and Cotton, a 6-foot-1, 187-pound redshirt-junior originally from Sacramento, Calif., are both midyear transfers and are set to join the team in time for spring drills.
Both saw time at safety for the Beavers but will compete at cornerback for the Grizzlies in the 2020 season.
Hicks Onu played in six games and made three starts for OSU in 2019 – his fifth season in Corvallis. After redshirting in 2015, he went on to play in 24-straight games as a redshirt freshman and sophomore in 2016 and 17 before missing the 2018 season to injury. After receiving a medical hardship waiver for the 2018 year, Hicks Onu will come to Montana with one season of eligibility remaining.
He says it was Washington-Grizzly Stadium and the passion of Griz nation that drew him to Missoula.
"Montana has a big-time college football feel, with a chance to win big games in an amazing atmosphere. I have had friends play here in the past, and they have nothing but great things to say about it, so I'm looking forward to resuming my career here," said Hicks Onu.
A veteran in the backfield for the Beavers, in three seasons of action at Oregon State, he made 30 appearances and made five career starts. In that time, he accumulated 77 career tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, two pass deflections, one interception, and a forced fumble.
In just six games in 2019, he racked up 28 total tackles and one TFL, enough to make him the Beavers' 15th-leading tackler, despite only playing a half a season.
As a sophomore in 2017, Hicks Onu had three six-tackle games against Arizona State, Oregon, and USC, where he also forced a fumble on special teams. Against Stanford that year, he picked off a Cardinal pass and posted five tackles.
As a freshman in 2016, he appeared in all 12 of OSU's games (mostly on special teams), finishing the year with 11 tackles. He was also an Academic All-Pac-12 selection that season as well.
Hicks Onu graduated from Hebron HS in his hometown of Carrollton, Texas, after playing just five games as a senior due to injury. Prior to that season, Elite Scouting Services rated him among its top 100 defensive back prospects in Texas. He graduated from OSU in the spring of 2019 with a degree in digital communications arts.
Cotton comes to Montana this spring ahead of his redshirt junior season, leaving him two years of eligibility to compete for the Grizzlies.
After an official visit to UM earlier in early January, he says the team culture and the opportunity to compete at a high level drew him to Montana.
"I loved everything on my official visit. Coach Hauck, coach (CJ) Cox, they're really great coaches, and coach Hauck, he's a real winner. That's what really drew my attention to the University of Montana," says Cotton.
"I feel like I could help the team win. I'll do whatever coach needs me to do, so I think I could be a valuable piece here."
After redshirting his true freshman year in 2017, Cotton saw action in two games for the Beavers in 2018 and impressed with three tackles against Arizona State, but missed his 2019 season due to injury.
At Inderkum High School in Sacramento, Cotton was a two-way standout at safety and quarterback, totaling 20 touchdowns and 1900 all-purpose yards on offense his senior season.
Defensively, he racked up 63 tackles, five interceptions, and two forced fumbles to earn a rating as the No. 3 safety in California, the No. 7 safety in the West, and the No. 46 overall safety in the nation by Scout.
He was a first-team All-Metro player as a junior and senior, first-team all-section, and first-team all-Nor-Cal, as well as a four-time all-league pick, and league MVP as a senior.
The first person in his family to go to college, Cotton also excels in the classroom as an honor roll student.
The 2020 Grizzlies open their season on September 5 at home against Central Washington.