One of the highest-priority targets on the Bears recruiting radar for the better part of two years could hardly be accused of being rash in his decision of his collegiate destination but after much deliberation and a lot of recruiting trips, Buhach Colony†(Atwater, CA) offensive tackle Aaron Cochran finally made it official as he committed to Cal after his official visit this weekend in Berkeley.
"It feels really good," said Cochran. "I feel I made a really, really good decision.
"Right now, it's just a huge weight lifted off me and I'm really glad†to be a part of the new era at Cal with Coach Dykes and the new staff."
After being recruited by former Cal offensive line coach Jim Michalczik -a veteral coach with a decade under his belt at Cal, the transition to being recruited by new OL coach Zach Yenser and Dykes and staff has been a smooth one for Cochran.
"It hasn't been a huge change," said Cochran. "They're nice and they show that they care about their players and their development as students and players."
With older brother and current Cal frosh center Matt Cochran going through the recruiting process and ultimately choosing Cal in 2011,†the Semper Fi All-American†has been exposed a great deal to the recruiting process, particularly at Cal.
"I feel very comfortable at Cal and the fact that I know almost all the players in Matt's class along with a lot of my my class makes it a lot easier for me," said Cochran. "I've practically lived at Berkeley with all the times we've been there and back. It's been great."
Lest anyone think it was any easy decision for the younger Cochran to follow his brother to Cal, a knowledge of the dynamics of the brothers' relationship makes it clear that many pros and cons had to be weighed before Aaron chose to commit to Cal. However, in the end, the decision was clear.
"I would say we're different than your average pair of brothers," said Cochran. "Matt and I are very close.
"We have our moments. It's not like we're best friends but we watch out for each other and he'll help me if I ask him for it. I'll do the same for him.
"We're kind of apart but together at the same time. We're both really individuals and very different in our personalities.
"We'll go have fun sometimes together and we'll fight like brothers, too. But it will definitely be good to come in knowing someone really well -sometimes even better than they know themselves. At the same time, he's by brother so he'll make me want to compete more.
"I'll probably get angry with him at times over th next 4-5 years but it's good to have family and someone so close to you on campus."
An excellent student with a 3.6 gpa and a position in student leadership serving as student body vice president, the Cal degree in some ways transcends even comfort level and future gridiron prospects in influencing the 6-7/340 tackle's decision to be a Bear.
"For me, the Cal degree is everything," said Cochran. "I know the NFL may or may not be an option for me but that won't last forever. A Cal degree will. Football won't last forever but no one can take away my degree. The prestige of a University of California degree really made me want to go there. I feel that will set me up for the rest of my life, not just relying on football."
Cochran's senior season has been a successful one, particulary with the giant OT's ability to play without pain following successful meniscus surgery along with the weight loss that accompanied the procedure with the rehab workouts involved.
"It was really hard at the beginning," said Cochran. "It was really hard to get the surgery scheduled. "I missed all of my junior basketball season.
"I did lose some weight on the process, too. Before the surgery, I was around 385. I got down to 330 in the season.
"I'm a little heavier now but I feel like I'm totally a better athlete than I was before. I'm stronger and†better with my technique.
"It's nice to not have to deal with the pain and be more agile now."
Cochran chose the Bears primarily over Oklahoma in making his commitment decision while also fielding offers from Notre Dame, Nebraska, Purdue, Washington, Arizona and others before choosing the Bears.