Cal needed the big uglies up front to start competing against the best defenses in the conference. They have three so far with Freddie Tagaloa, Steven Moore and Christian Okafor. And now they have a center to coordinate all activities up front.
The Atwater big man committed during halftime of the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl Game, and was joined by his family (including brother Aaron Cochran, a 2013 OT target) and fellow Cal commits Zach Hoffpauir, Freddie Tagaloa, Bryce Treggs, Michael Barton, and Hardy Nickerson at his commitment. It has to warm your heart to see all these Cal recruits together and excited about being Bears.
Welcome to Cal, Matt. Go Bears!
After the jump, more on Cochran, including highlight video. (Thanks to SoCal Oski for the tip.)
One of the things that Cal fans have probably underrated is the average to mediocre center play Cal has dealt with the past three years since Alex Mack departed to the NFL. Center play is so critical in college football, particularly for a pro-style offense that demands a field general attitude from their man in the middle. Cochran can hopefully be part of the answer.
Standing at 6'4", 340 pounds, Cochran provides that sort of physicality not seen since the days of Mack. Tom Lemming had this analysis.
Exceptionally quick in a limited space, he's technically sound, and as aggressive as they come. #74 proves to be the top center prospect in the West. He never lets up and has the take-no-prisoners attitude that the college scouts love to see. He takes good angles to his blocks, can get to the second level quickly, and is one of the more consistent blockers in Northern California. Shows remarkable footwork for a 330 pounder. Not yet as strong as he will be, he already dominates the competition at the point of attack.
You just have to love these quotes Ryan Gorcey got from Cochran's Buhach Colony coach Sam Parker (a former Golden Bear in both rugby and football).
"With Matt, Matt's a very interesting young man. He came to our school as a freshman, but it was after the football season, and you could just see in his demeanor that his future was to be a great student and a great football player. He will do anything and everything to make sure that takes place," Parker said. "This year is the first year that we asked Matt to come over and play defense. I told him, one, it's going to make him very marketable at the next level, and two, it's going to show athleticism. We only were able to coach him maybe 10 minutes a day on defense, but he took our principles -- which are strike through guys and run to the ball -- and he did that as well as anybody we have on the defensive line, with the exception of Aziz [Shittu], who's just a special guy -- but offensively, what Matt did, was the thing that he asked me about back in April. He asked me, 'What makes a good offensive lineman?' I said, 'It's starting the play and finishing the play,' and that's what he did better than anybody we'd had in a number of years. When he latches on to guys, that block wasn't done until he'd finished it, and he's a tremendous finisher."
Watching his highlights, you can already tell Cochran's favorite food is pancakes.
Cochran picked Cal over schools like Tennessee (the primary contender), Arizona State, Auburn, Colorado, Boise State, Stanford, UCLA, Utah and Washington for a big reason: Honor.
"Even though I'm a Cal guy, my coaching roots are actually through UC Davis, with Bob Foster and Jim Sochor, and we have a motto there -- and Tony Franks uses the same motto at St. Mary's in Stockton -- it's trust, unity and togetherness, done with integrity. That really is what Matt saw within the Cal program. If you give your word, if you give your honor, it's there, 24 hours a day. Everything is going to be there. When they offered, the question that Matt had, was, 'If I don't accept it, is it going to be there on signing day?' They said, 'Absolutely. Our word is our bond.'"
Here are the rankings for Cochran.
- Rivals: 53rd best recruit in California, 3rd best center overall
- 247Sports: 42nd best recruit in Calfornia, 5th best center overall
- ESPN: 52nd best recruit in California, 5th best center overall
- Scout: 7th best center overall
Offensive line coach Jim Michalczik and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo were Cochran's main recruiters.