Former UConn QB to become coach-in-training
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn quarterback Casey Cochran has accepted he will never again play football, but his coach is making sure he doesn’t have to give up the game.
The sophomore decided to end his playing career after he suffered his third concussion since entering college during a season-opening loss to BYU on Aug. 29. He had other concussions while in high school.
Diaco said Tuesday that he met with Cochran, his family and the medical staff last Thursday and they came to a consensus. Cochran will remain on scholarship and take a new role with the team as a coach in training. He still will spend 20 hours a week with the team during the season and eight hours during the offseason just as any other member of the team, Diaco said.
“It sounds like he’s excited about learning how to be a coach,” Diaco said. “So, we can immediately... get started with his development in that area, give him a few jobs and a few roles.”
The university did not make Cochran available to reporters Tuesday.
But his father said the final decision to not play again came from the quarterback and his son is at peace with it. Casey spent a lot of time studying the issue of concussions after he realized that his were becoming more frequent, easier to get, and the symptoms were lasting longer each time, Jack Cochran said. His latest occurred during the fourth quarter of the BYU game, and after trying to hide it for a few days, Casey came forward to the medical staff last Wednesday, Jack Cochran said.
“He just didn’t want to be one of those people who were affected by it long term,” he said. “He knew his age group can live another 60 to 70 years if healthy and wanted to have a strong mind and a strong body for those years.”
Jack Cochran won eight state championships coaching at Connecticut high schools before deciding to take time off to be able to follow Casey’s UConn career. He said he has mixed emotions about his son’s desire to follow in his footsteps, worrying that it might “consume” his life.
But he said he was floored that Diaco offered to become a mentor, and allow Casey, who is listed as a pre-communications science major, get a college education in high-level coaching.
“From the first second he learned of this, he put my son’s well-being ahead of what might be better for the success of the team,” Cochran said. “Without this, who knows what Casey would be doing with all his time. I applaud coach Diaco. I really owe him for that.”
Cochran said his son has already started his coaching career. He was given the assignment of drawing up a scouting report on the Boise State defensive backs for this Saturday’s game, and has spent hours this week poring over film and coming up with some interesting insights on how to attack that defense.
Cochran’s teammates say they also are 100 percent behind his decision.
Defensive back Byron Jones had two brothers play for Jack Cochran when he was coaching at New Britain High School. He said Casey always was with his dad on the sideline, watching and learning.
“He’s going to be a pumped-up, juiced-up coach,” he said.
Senior Chandler Whitmer will take over the starting duties. Diaco said sophomore Tim Boyle, who he had hoped to redshirt, also will play. Whitmer, who had been splitting time with Cochran, revealed Tuesday that he also has had three concussions, one in high school and two at UConn. . But the affects, he said, have not been as severe.
“I trust the training staff for their opinions,” he said. “You can’t play scared or thinking about things like that. You’ve just gotta play until it’s done.”