His circuitous route to Manoa is ripening at the right time, and even with a backup quarterback starting in the season opener, Cockheran would not be denied. Hawaii's 40-17 win over Appalachian State answered some key questions, including the ones about who would be ready to step up in the receiving corps.
Cockheran's seven receptions for 154 yards—and three touchdowns—were sheer torture for an Appalachian State defense that had few answers for Hawaii's mix of short routes and deep threats, i.e. Cockheran, who ran a 4.26 40 in junior college.
His touchdowns Saturday night, from reserve Jason Whieldon, brought back memories of another junior college product who rifled his way to some prize winnings—Rolo-to-Lelie. June Jones couldn't be more ecstatic, well, in his low-key ecstatic kind of way.
"Jeremiah's a kid that we recruited out of high school. He went through a lot of trouble trying to get here. He finally made it," Jones said. "He's got great work ethic, and just a great kid. I'm happy for him."
Cockheran's first touchdown, a streak on the right side, left the cornerback 10 yards behind in the FieldTurf dust. "It was cover 2. I just had to fade and Jason hit me with the ball. It was great timing," he said. "All week he was making good throws and I was making good catches. We just carried on what we did in practice to the game."
While a couple of other Warrior receivers had trouble holding on to Whieldon's passes, Cockheran had zero problems. "It's always nice to be a target. I think that just a good relationship that me and Jason have carried on to tonight and you're seeing great things," he said.
His second touchdown was a post from the right side that looked like it could have been intercepted by two defensive backs. "(The safety) should've looked to blow me up. That's what I would've did if I was the safety, but lucky he was going for the pick, and I just reached over at the last minute and got it, and seen them collide and walked into the end zone," Cockheran said of the scintillating 54-yard touchdown play.
Cockheran did it with a case of pinkeye in his left eye, which has left his eyelid somewhat droopy. "It's been bugging me all week," he said.
The Warriors have a bye next weekend, followed by the long-anticipated matchup with Southern Cal in the Los Angeles Coliseum. "We've still got a lot of things to work on. Even though we put up 40 points tonight and the defense shut ‘em down to 17, you can never be satisfied. We want to do well in two weeks against SC, so I'm sure JJ will have us ready," he said.
USC rolled over sixth-ranked Auburn, 23-0, Saturday. The Trojans will certainly be aware of Cockheran now, if they hadn't before. Cockheran, who hails from Southern California, is ready for anything and everything that comes his way. "Well, all year I've been talking trash to our defense so I can be a target for them. Now that I might be a target for everybody else, that would be stupid because we've got four other guys who can do things out there that they're gonna find out about," he said.
Going home means having a chance to prove something. The road has been long, but Cockheran intends to make it worthwhile. "My mama's gonna be there," he said.
"I'm not gonna embarrass myself in front of my mama."