Mahoney, Vols coaches impress Devin Cochran

Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney (pictured) and the coaching staff made Knoxville visit an "eye-opener" for the Peach State's No. 3-ranked junior offensive tackle, Devin Cochran. Here's more:

Devin Cochran’s knowledge of Tennessee football heading into the recruiting process but thanks to a former teammate and a recent trip to Knoxville, all of that is changing…and quickly.

The Scout three-star prospect played last fall at Greater Atlanta Christian School with Tennessee cornerback signee Micah Abernathy. That relationship got the ball rolling slightly on considering the Orange & White.

“I didn't know much (about Tennessee),” Cochran said, “but from Micah he had told me a little bit about the dorms and told me a little bit about the facilities. He didn't really tell me much about athletics, whatnot, nothing too much about the coaching staff. So, I didn’t really know too much about it.”

Cochran and family drove around Knoxville before arriving on campus for a junior day on March 7. They then spent roughly 6 hours on campus.

“It was great; it was an eye-opener,” Cochran said. “I had never been up to Tennessee before so I got to experience a lot of new things. I met the coaching staff. I got to see everybody — that was a really good experience just to see who would be there when I get there. I kind of saw the environment of Tennessee. When we drove around, we got to see the campus.

“One thing that kind of stuck out to me was when we went to the stadium, it was huge. It seats like 102,000, so that was that was honestly a big deal. That was really cool.”

The family atmosphere generated by Tennessee coach Butch Jones and his staff stuck out to the No. 3-rated offensive tackle in Georgia.

“First off, they have a great facility," Cochran said. "It was extremely inviting. It was amazing, possibly one of the best I have seen so far. Besides the campus, the coaching staff is real inviting. Everybody just makes you feel like a huge family.”

A sit-down with Jones only helped Tennessee in its recruitment of the bookend blocker.

“That was awesome,” said Cochran, who also met new Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord. “We went up to his office and whatnot and and kind of got to speak to him pretty much one on one just him and my family. My parents loved him. The whole thing just pretty much opened up all of our eyes because it was our first time meeting a lot of people, especially him, and coming to the campus.”

The position coach for Cochran should he bolt from the Peach State to play at Tennessee would be assistant Don Mahoney.

“Coach Mo is awesome,” Cochran said. “He's really inviting. He seems like he knows what he is talking about. Can't really listen to him without knowing that he knows everything that he is saying. He's a down-to-earth guy. He's cool. I would say the best thing that I probably felt about him was how warm and how inviting he was just as a guy, like he was… I don't really know how to explain it. He really made me seem like I was already part of the family.”

Tennessee defensive backs coach Willie Martinez initiated the contact with the Greater Atlanta Christian blocker before Mahoney joined in on the recruitment. Cochran got the offer from the Vols back in January. Others that offered are Duke, Georgia, Northwestern, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

“I really don't have a top school right now," Cochran said. "I don't even really have a top schools list but (Tennessee) definitely left a sense of…They definitely left a good feeling for me.”

The 2015 class as a whole didn’t have a ton of lengthy offensive tackles. That could open the door down the road for 2016s like the Atlanta resident.

“When coach Mahoney was talking to me, it's not like he's going to lie to me in a share to me that when I walked in I’ll play right away. But, he definitely put out the sense that if I am mentally ready and physically ready, then there's definitely a good chance of playing time. It just comes if I am ready for it mentally and physically."

The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder with a 3.34 grade point average has both academics and athleticism to see his offer list climb deep into the double digits. To help with the decision making, he’s seen Duke and Georgia on top of Tennessee’s with plans to check out Vanderbilt on March 21.

Cochran and his parents aren’t taking a wait-and-see approach in trying to figure out where to sign.

“My family and I, we have made a spreadsheet,” Cochran said. “To be honest it is probably going to be the best balance between academics, athletics and also the overall feel for the school.”

Abernathy, Cochran, quarterback Davis Mills and Auburn signee Darius Slayton led Greater Atlanta Christian made it to the 2014 GHSA Class 1A state championship, falling to Benedictine 45-21.

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