Early Thursday evening, a source close to California left tackle Aaron Cochran informed BearTerritory that the 6-foot-8, 350-pounder out of Atwater (Calif.) Buhach Colony would indeed be returning for his redshirt senior season.
Before the season finale against UCLA, Cochran's father, Rev. Roderick Cochran, tweeted that it was the "Last run for baby boy," intimating that Cochran -- who's played in 28 games in the last three years, missing just one game in each of the last two seasons -- would b leaving Berkeley.
The same source who informed BearTerritory of Cochran's return had previously said that Cochran would only be considering a jump to the NFL, not a transfer, but he now appears to have made the decision not to go pro early. Cochran's rare combination of size and footwork, thanks to years of playing high-level basketball in high school, could be enticing, but his return will certainly go a long way in his development.
Offensive line coach Brandon Jones has roundly praised Cochran's footwork and athleticism. "When he's fresh," Jones said, "he looks like a million bucks."
"The sky's the limit for Aaron. He's got a lot of talent," said head coach Sonny Dykes before the season. "Really, really has developed confidence, really changed his body. He's just been one of those kids that you recruit, and you say, 'Well, it's going to be two or three years,' and he's exceeded our expectations. We had high expectations, and I think he's exceeded them up to this point, and I'm looking forward to seeing what he does. He's what you want as a tackle. He's big, he's athletic, he's smart."
Last season, Cochran anchored a line that was the best among all Power 5 school in sacks per passing attempt (1 per 38.8), and was second in the Pac-12 in sacks per game (1.33).
The line will turn over at last two positions next year, with the graduation of four-year starter Chris Borrayo at left guard, and three-year starter Steven Moore at right tackle. Given that Cochran's understudy, Patrick Mekari, played for him against Hawaii, and took about half the snaps against San Diego State as Cochran recovered from a sprained knee, it's likely that he winds up at right tackle next season, though it's likely that he and Semisi Uluave will duel for guard duties while redshirt freshman Jake Curhan slides into the right tackle slot.