Gophers DE Cockran aiming for big things

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 20, 2013 - 11:35 PM

The Gophers like the pass-rush potential of growing defensive end Theiren Cockran.

hide

Gophers defender Theiren Cockran was a 210-pound end coming out of high school in Florida but now weighs 245 and, after recording only one sack last year, is No. 1 on the spring depth chart.

Photo: CARLOS GONZALEZ • cgonzalez@startribune.com ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

W hen the Miami Herald unveiled its 2011 All-Dade County football selections, Gophers defensive end Theiren Cockran made the list, but just barely. In fact, he was only the third-most decorated member of Homestead High School’s defensive line.

Ricardo Williams made the first team, Britton Hall made the second team and Cockran was honorable mention.

Most college recruiters were drawn to Williams, who stayed home to play for the University of Miami. Hall committed to Louisiana-Lafayette. Then-Homestead coach Bobby McCray kept telling people they shouldn’t overlook Cockran.

“He played AAU basketball every summer and missed our offseason football program,” McCray said. “I got angry with him. I told him when he devoted himself to being a full-time football player, the sky’s the limit.”

McCray would know. At least 10 of his former players have reached the NFL, including his son, Bobby, who played defensive end for the Saints when they won the Super Bowl in 2010.

Cockran eventually took McCray’s advice, giving up basketball as a high school junior to help fill out his 6-6 frame. Gophers defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys took notice when he was still recruiting for Northern Illinois. One month after Claeys and head coach Jerry Kill arrived at Minnesota, they got a late commitment from Cockran, who was listed as a two-star recruit by rivals.com.

Cockran weighed 210 pounds then. But after redshirting in 2011 and coming off the bench in all 13 games last season, he’s up to 245 pounds. He’s been a first-team defensive end this spring, replacing outgoing senior D.L. Wilhite, who led the Gophers with 8.5 sacks last season.

“Last year [Cockran] ended up getting a foot injury, and it slowed him down,” Claeys said. “He worked extremely hard in the offseason to put on some weight, and his strength really jumped up. So if we keep him healthy, he should have a big year because he’s not a coward.”

Cockran needed to be separated from offensive linemen after the whistle on multiple occasions this spring, but he seems anything but a hothead off the field. He’s a computer science major and earned Academic All-Big Ten honors last fall.

“He was always an honor student, and he was a member of our 5,000 Role Models [of Excellence] Project,” McCray said. “He came from a very good home, and he’s a hard-working young man.”

Cockran said people still tell him he looks like a basketball player.

“I like that because it makes me feel like an athlete,” he said. “Right now, I’m at 245 [pounds], and I’m feeling great. So I feel like I could take easily about 20 more pounds going into the next level.”

McCray said Cockran’s speed was eye-opening in high school. The 6-5 Williams could run the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds, but Cockran consistently clocked in at 4.5 or 4.6.

Williams has played in only one game so far for the Hurricanes and wasn’t listed on their two-deep roster after spring practice.

“In high school, he was the bigger recruit,” Cockran said. “I just use it as motivation. I knew that one day I’d get back at him.”

Cockran had six tackles last year, including one sack. Asked how many sacks he thinks he can get with more playing time this year, he answered with words that echoed his high school coach.

“I want to get as many as I can,” he said. “I have no set number. The sky’s the limit.”

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Boston - LP: A. Ranaudo 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: C. Morton 4
Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: U. Jimenez 8
Washington - WP: T. Roark 3 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 9
NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 6
Cincinnati - LP: J. Cueto 0 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 7
Chicago WSox - WP: E. Surkamp 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: K. Herrera 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 4 FINAL
Houston - LP: N. Tropeano 2
Detroit - LP: J. Nathan 3 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: G. Perkins 4
Milwaukee - WP: B. Kintzler 3 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: K. Siegrist 2
Los Angeles - LP: D. Haren 4 FINAL
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 10
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: J. Collmenter 1
Seattle 10 Top 7th Inning
LA Angels 2
Texas 6 Top 8th Inning
Oakland 3
Philadelphia 3 Top 7th Inning
San Diego 5
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan

ADVERTISEMENT

Advertisement
Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How do you feel about the decision to reinstate Adrian Peterson?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close