Coming into a season in which a majority of the Ohio Bobcats' offensive weapons from a season ago are gone after graduating, senior wideout Chase Cochran will have to fulfill a big role.
Gone is team-leading receiver Dante Foster, who signed with the Vikings. Gone are the two studs in the ground game, Beau Blankenship (who went to the Jaguars) and Ryan Boykin, who signed on with the Falcons. Gone is Matt Waters, and his 32 catches from a year ago. Gone is the best quarterback in school history, Tyler Tettleton (who signed with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League).
The 6-foot-2 190 pound athletic wide receiver will be the main target for new starting quarterback Derrius Vick—under the assumption that backup sophomore JD Sprague won't somehow storm back to win the QB battle.
Coming out of Lebanon, Ohio (about 30 miles northeast of Cincinnati), the talented young athlete managed to wow Miami Valley and southwestern Ohio opponents. Cochran combined for over 2,700 as a wideout (1,000 plus in each of his final two years of high school) and displayed his athleticism as a kick-returner. The dude can turn on the afterburners.
On top of these impressive football feats, Cochran earned All-Ohio honors in track twice, participated in musicals (quite the theatrical Bobcat!) and served on student council. That's a diverse array of skills for an athlete whose best days were (and are yet) to come.
Cochran established himself as a playmaker at the end of his sophomore campaign in Ohio's 45-14 win over Louisiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 2, 2012. He hauled in three receptions for 162 yards through the air, which left many Bobcat fans with high expectations coming into the next fall season.
Cochran improved upon those numbers last year, showing an ability to leap up above the crowd with an Andrew Wiggins-like vertical. You think I exaggerate, but I don't exaggerate! Okay, I exaggerate, but you get the point right? He torched opposing defenses as he snagged three 60+ yard touchdowns. By the end of the 2013 season Cochran was second on the team with 37 snatches and 689 yards receiving. Over the course of his collegiate career Cochran has grabbed 12 catches of at least 40 yards.
It's not at all out of the question to expect Ohio to rely on big, play-action home run balls with a new quarterback more proven with his legs than his arm at the helm of the offense. So don't be surprised to see Vick lobbing deep potatoes his way, and when he does, watch in awe as the explosive playmaker goes up and brings the ball down in heavy traffic, or against one-on-one coverage.
Don't fall asleep on Chase Cochran. He'll strike quickly on the MAC squad you're rooting for.