Shawn Jansen: Buhach Colony's Cochran hopes Tide brings him home

June 11, 2011 

jansen,shawn

Shawn Jansen

MARCI STENBERG — Merced Sun-Star

Matt Cochran called his trip to Alabama a business trip.

Cochran's business right now is football.

The soon-to-be Buhach Colony senior flew out to the University of Alabama to participate in the Crimson Tide's football camp.

The 6-foot-4, 340-pound center put his talents on display for the Alabama coaching staff and did well.

"It went pretty well," Cochran said. "I got to talk to the O-line coach and the offensive coordinator and they both thought I did well.

"They told me they're not done evaluating all the offensive linemen. They still have one more camp. They told me to be patient. I should know in about a month. I got a good vibe from them. I left without an offer, but I'm OK with that."

Like Thunder teammate Aziz Shittu, Cochran has been a hot commodity for college recruiters.

He's already received 12 scholarship offers from schools such as Boise State, Arizona State, Washington, Cal, Utah and UCLA.

However, Alabama has always been special to Cochran.

That's where he grew up.

"I lived in Alabama until I was 10," Cochran said. "It has a different feel. The people and the environment.

"I love going back and visiting my family. It reminds me of when I was younger. I love that place."

That's why making this trip meant so much.

Cochran also traveled to Auburn for an unofficial visit where he toured the campus, stadium and weight room.

He also ran into former Tiger Nick Fairley, who was a first-round draft pick by the Detroit Lions in April.

"The thing I took (from) my trip is the people at Alabama, everyone out there works for everything they have. The place I choose has to have the same mentality as me.

"I had a connection at Auburn with the coaching staff because I share the same faith as a lot of them. There was a spiritual connection there."

Cochran says he isn't rushing to make his college choice, but would like to have the decision made before the start of his senior season to avoid distraction.

Shittu to Stanford isn't exactly a slam dunk anymore.

The Thunder defensive lineman had verbally committed to the Cardinal a few weeks ago, but has decided to reopen his recruiting process.

"I just want to go through the whole process," Shittu said.

He said he plans on taking a couple official visits before the start of the season and he said Stanford is still one of the schools he's considering.

With two prized recruits, Buhach Colony football coach Kevin Swartwood has had a lot of visitors on campus this spring.

One assistant coach was quickly recognized by one of Swartwood's classes.

Former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron is now an assistant at USC.

You may not recognize the name, but you would probably recognize the face.

Orgeron appeared in the movie "The Blind Side" as himself as one of the many college coaches recruiting Michael Oher.

"I'll never forget that day," Swartwood said. "I have a second period Biology class that runs from about 9 to 10:45 in the morning and that seems to be a prime time for college recruiting coaches to come through.

"He walked in with another USC coach and I recognized him instantly. My class was very quiet. Then I started hearing people whispering and then I started hearing the word Blind Side.

"Then kids started getting up and shaking his hand. I had other kids asking if they could take their cell phones out and take a picture. He was great about the whole thing."

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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