Samuel D. Logan
The Valdosta Daily Times
The Valdosta State Blazers triumphantly hoisted the Division II National Championship trophy last December in Florence, Ala. with a decisive victory over Winston-Salem State. Cayden Cochran was a junior then and led his team to a 35-7 win with an 18-26, 109 yard performance in which he scored two rushing touchdowns and threw for another in the victory.
Cochran proved to be a leader, fighting through the adversity of his family losing their home just a week earlier.
“A lot shifted last year when my family’s home burned down during the semi -finals of the playoffs. The way the team reacted and helped me out was awesome. I wanted to focus on the National Championship game. It was difficult but it was straight work at practice. A lot of the seniors at the time saw my leadership and from that moment, I think they realized I could be the leader for the team,” said Cochran.
Cochran was born on July 18, 1990 in Cashion, Okla. to Chris and Kerry Cochran. He began playing football in the fourth grade for his father’s little league football team. He played for his father until the sixth grade. He began his football career playing the running back position, and in sixth grade, Cochran got his first chance to play quarterback.
“The first time I ever played quarterback was because ours had gotten hurt in a game. I came in the game and played well, and I’ve played quarterback since then,” said Cochran.
After playing quarterback in middle and high school in Oklahoma, Cochran attended Coffeeville Community College in Kansas. Cochran was redshirted his freshman year in 2009, but got the chance to start in 2010. He compiled 193 completions on 354 passes for 2,393 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Cochran then attended the University of Oklahoma in January 2011. Cochran participated in spring practices as a wide receiver for the Sooners. Cochran left there in July 2011, when he transferred to Valdosta State University.
“The way I was recruited was like this; I had the chance to compete to start. I didn’t get it at first. The quarterback played about 5 games and then got a season ending injury in a game. I came in to start and started from then on,” said Cochran.
The game Cochran referenced was the October 8, 2011 showdown against Ouachita Baptist and went 20-29 for 424 yards and four touchdowns. He earned GSC player of the week honors for that performance and showed the Blazers at that moment that he could be their quarterback.
Cochran played in nine games in 2011, but only started in three of them. He completed 77-135 passes for 948 yards and eight touchdowns and only three interceptions. In 2012, the season the Blazers won the Championship, Cochran went 218-333 for 2,710 yards and 26 touchdowns. Also notable this season was the fact that Cochran rushed for 350 yards and eleven touchdowns.
This season, Cochran has been battling an ankle injury but has still managed to be a leader for the Blazers. Playing in eight games, Cochran has compiled 139-245 and 1,538 yards and twelve touchdowns. Cochran left the game Thursday against UNC-Pembroke with an ankle injury, ending Cochran’s last home game as a Blazer quarterback.
While Cochran’s VSU football career is coming to a close, his future is still bright.
Cochran is a Criminal Justice major and minors in Native American studies at VSU. He is scheduled to graduate in December and plans to attend graduate school at a school still undecided.
Cochran has the aspiration to become a graduate assistant football coach.
“Coaching is what I really want to do,” said Cochran.
When Cochran is not playing football, he enjoys playing golf and watching Netflix.
“In the season, it’s hard to do anything. We are always at the field house and at practice. Whenever I get time away from practice, I try to be lazy,” said Cochran.
Cochran loves his teammates, and displays that with the weekly dinners he has with teammates. The Blazer quarterbacks and offensive line members have dinner once a week, and Cochran himself takes out running backs Cedric O’ Neal and Austin Scott once a week for dinner as well.
“I try to be like a regular human being sometimes,” added Cochran.
One of Cochran’s favorite teammates is wide receiver Chris Anderson.
“He is a maniac. He used to play quarterback when he first came here, but he got moved to wide receiver. He was quiet in quarterback meetings, but when he became a wide receiver, he became very funny and outgoing. You have to have guys like that on your team that joke around. He might be the funniest person on the team,” said Cochran.
Red has always been his favorite color, and mentions that it may be due to him growing up an Oklahoma Sooners fan. His favorite food is pizza and book is ‘The Greatest’, and autobiography of Muhammad Ali. Cochran also grew up a fan of the NFL Miami Dolphins team. He had an aunt who lived in Miami when he was a child and she would always give him Miami Dolphins gear for Christmas.
Cochran likes watching Tom Brady and Petyon Manning play in the NFL currently.
His teammates see him as a hard nose.
“He’s gonna get the job done whatever it takes,” said senior receiver Regginald Lewis on Cochran.
“I hold myself to a high standard on the football field because I expect my teammates to do the same,” said Cochran.
His favorite athletic gear is Nike, but admits to a new love for Under armor.
His favorite athlete is St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, who was the quarterback at University of Oklahoma from 2007 to 2009.
In high school, Cochran had the pleasure to meet Bradford.
“He gave me advice on how to handle adversity. I met Bradford again at OU, where Bradford was practicing during the NFL lockout, when players could not practice at their teams’ facilities. I got to throw the ball around with him a little bit. I was a receiver then too, so I would catch balls from Bradford. When I threw the ball back to him one time he said 'you still got it, you can still throw the ball.' I was like 'yeah right,' but then I started thinking about it. If I found a place to go, and had a chance to play quarterback, I could do it,” said Cochran on an account of playing with Bradford.
“Bradford is always working hard, and that’s how I play,” said Cochran.
Most people in Valdosta would not know that Cochran is part Native American. His father's family has ancestry in the Kiowa tribe. Cochran noted that his Native American heritage is very important to him and his family.