"I just had a strong, positive feeling about the school," the 17-year-old said. "Growing up, the only team I would watch was Penn State."
A devoted fan of Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions, Cothran was not swayed by the child sex-abuse scandal that rocked State College. Former assistant Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison Tuesday for molesting 10 boys.
"My commitment is still strong," Cothran said. "All of the stuff that happened worried my parents [Greg and Janice] more than me. They just wanted to make sure that I weighed my options, and was sure about Penn State being the right place for me."
The NCAA's sanctions against Penn State were announced in late July. They included a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban on the football team, and the voiding of all Paterno-led victories from 1998 through 2011.
Did the sanctions give Cothran pause for reconsideration of his college choice?
"Not really," he said Tuesday. "As far as not being able to play in bowl games goes, you still get the chance to play at Beaver Stadium in front of 110,000 people."
Said Collachi: "Curtis made a decision he's real comfortable with. It's still about the right fit for him, and that's Penn State."
This season for C.R. North, which is 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the Suburban One League National Conference, Cothran has posted 19 tackles, including 14 solos; four sacks; and two pass defends.
"He does everything well," Collachi said. "We put him to the opponent's strong side every time. They have to decide if they want to run at him or against him."
Cothran's first taste of organized football came in the seventh grade at Newtown Middle School. "It was always my favorite sport, even if it was just roughhousing in the back yard," he said.
Cothran is a regular in the weight room. He has bench-pressed 345 pounds, power-cleaned 270, deadlifted 500, and back-squatted 415.
"I've added about 15 pounds since last season," he said. "That's come from lifting and good nutrition."
Cothran, who doubles as an offensive guard, also had scholarship offers from Connecticut, Maryland, Purdue, Rutgers, and Syracuse. Penn State assistant coach John Butler, who played at La Salle High, mostly handled his recruitment for the Nittany Lions.
"He was straightforward with me, always let me know what was going on after all the stuff came out," Cothran said. "I trusted him 100 percent, and I still do."
Cothran, a three-star recruit according to Rivals.com, was at Beaver Stadium on Saturday for the Lions' 39-28, Big Ten triumph over Northwestern.
The squad, guided by first-year boss Bill O'Brien, improved to 4-2 with the win.
Penn State's defensive linemen are tutored by 17-year assistant Larry Johnson.
"He's definitely one of the main reasons why I've stayed with my choice," Cothran said. "He talked to me like I was his son. You can tell he's going to coach you up real well."
And his impression of O'Brien?
"He's got a big-time motor," Cothran said. "He never stops. And he gives off a real positive vibe."
Contact Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone