On Thursday morning, California left tackle Aaron Cochran announced that he will graduate from Cal in May, and seek a graduate transfer to another institution. The 6-foot-8, 350-pound Cochran had expressed to sources privately that he was dismayed that he would have had three different offensive line coaches in four years, and that he had grown very close to former offensive line coach Brandon Jones, now at Texas Tech.
Cochran, who played in 28 games and started 16 over the last three years, played in 11 games with a career-high 10 starts at left tackle as a 2016 junior after playing in a career-high 12 games with six starts at left tackle all over the final eight games as a 2015 sophomore. He played in five games off the bench and on special teams as a 2014 redshirt freshman. Cochran is on track to earn his bachelor's degree from Cal in interdisciplinary studies in May of 2017.
“We thank Aaron Cochran for the contributions he made during his four years with the Cal football program and congratulate him for being on track to earn a Cal degree in May," said head coach Justin Wilcox, who took over for the fired Sonny Dykes earlier this month. "We wish him the best in his future endeavors both on and off the field.”
Cochran had initially said in December that he would return for his senior season, after mulling a decision to declare for the NFL Draft.
Cal returns utility lineman Patrick Mekari, who started in place of Cochran against Hawaii in the season opener, due to Cochran suffering strained knee during the last week of fall camp. Mekari also started and played the majority of the game against San Diego State two weeks later, and played in eight games total in 2016. Mekari played in six games off the bench at guard and tackle as a true freshman. He was expected to take over for the graduated Steven Moore at right tackle, but now more than likely will take over Cochran's spot.
That leaves right tackle wide open. Last season, true freshman Jake Curhan impressed coaches enough during practice that he was the emergency tackle -- with the staff not wanting to burn his redshirt -- and it's likely that he will continue his development and be in contention for one of the tackle spots, this season.
The Bears added 6-foot-6 late-enrollee Daniel Juarez to the roster this spring, and also returns tackles and Kamryn Bennett, Vince Johnson, each of whom have game experience. Johnson has played in 31 games off the bench, including 25 straight games the last two seasons. Bennett, a redshirt junior played in two games as a redshirt sophomore and four games off the bench at tackle last year.