Written By Dowling Payne
You can’t find much bigger of a name on campus than Cayden Cochran, the quarterback of our Division II National Championship Blazer football team. While Cochran spends a good amount of time in uniform, off the field he has a heart for his family and a passion for his Native American heritage.
“I literally eat, sleep, and breathe football,” Cochran said. “But in the end, all you need is family.” Cochran was born and raised in the town of Cashion, Oklahoma– the same place that both his parents grew up. When he transferred to Valdosta, he quickly fell in love with the pines, palm trees and everything that makes up South Georgia.
His road to Valdosta began after two years at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. After a tour of the campus, he met the coaching staff and signed the next morning. After hearing from Coach Dean how much of a tight- knit group the football program was, he made his decision quickly. Since then, Cochran has made quite an impact on the field. While this season ended on a strong note, it didn’t get off to the best start for Cochran.
“I had worked so hard in the off season to get ready, and then first game of the season I got hurt,” he said. “Mom kept telling me that you “can’t question God” so I just kept that in mind until I could play again.”
Besides football, Cochran spends his spare time catching up with his family and relaxing until it’s time to practice again. Three words can be used to describe Cochran: nice, driven and thoughtful–the latter a trait he says he gets from his mom. It’s almost impossible to have a conversation with Cochran without him mentioning something about his family with a smile spread across his face. His father, Chris, was also a college quarterback and taught Cochran all his football skills. His mother, Kerry, seems to have a heart of gold (and football) for her four boys.
Not only does Cochran have a strong immediate family, but also a second family here in Titletown.
“We all come from different backgrounds,” Cochran said. “But we wear the same jersey on the field, and we leave those differences behind.”
As the quarterback, Cochran is constantly in the spotlight. He knows that he has to carry himself well, focus on what is most important and know that his coaches and teammates are constantly looking to him.
According to Cochran, the best moment of his life was when they won the national championship.
“I know its cliché, but we got stronger every week and it was unbelievable to watch us grow as a family and then win,” Cochran said.
While the team was making Blazer history on the road to a national title, Cochran’s family was struck by a tragedy. While the team played in Minnesota, his family home caught fire and left them without a place to live.
“It was the hardest situation I’ve ever dealt with,” Cochran said. “It was so hard to focus while I knew my family was having such a hard time back home.”
Throughout this time, Cochran stayed in touch with his family but they continued to remain the strong support system they are and told him to focus on football.
After college, Cochran has dreams of a very fitting career, a college football coach. As one of the most influential Blazers, Cochran has a few words of advice: “If you want something, give it all you have– give it every second you have in the day, give the best effort to whatever you are involved in.”
Cayden Cochran is a reflection of his parents, coaches, and teammates. His humble spirit comes from his within—and that’s what makes him a Blazer.