As senior defensive end Aaron Cochran enters his final season, he figures to be a key piece of Whitworth’s formidable defense as the Pirates contend with other NWC teams. Cochran has had a valuable start to the season, accumulating 11 solo tackles and 16 assisted tackles, while also finding the quarterback for three sacks on the year.
“Aaron is great because he is always there to trust on, be reliable on, and has 100 percent work ethic,” sophomore linebacker Grant Livingston said. “He has a big motor always running.”
Staying healthy will be the most important factor in allowing the Pirates to move forward with a successful season, Cochran said.
“We have a strong core of guys. We really need to remain healthy and wholesome,” Cochran said. “When you have that core, it is super important especially when we could do really well with this group, that way we can develop the younger guys instead of putting them in the fire.”
Cochran said he always has a good attitude before and during the game.
“Before the game I feel ready, you have worked on it all week,” Cochran said. “I’ll listen to my country music, and I’ll feel prepared. During the game, when Jacob Kriegbaum or De’ Hall gets a pick, or even when Grant Livingston makes a big hit; or even when the offense makes a big play.”
Cochran said “execution” is the most important aspect of winning a game.
“You have to play so hard and so smart,” Cochran said. “It comes down to who can execute. If you have everyone at the right spot, right speed, you’ll be successful. If we are all up to speed, we are able to make those crucial plays.”
The next few games will mark the start of his favorite part of the season, Cochran said.
“I’m excited to get to league play. When we play, we play, and I think we are contenders. We have PLU and Linfield at home, so I’m excited for that since they are top teams in the league. If we play with our hair on fire, I think we can beat them,” Cochran said.
Cochran said his relationships with the coaches enable him to stay confident on the playing field.
“[Defensive line and strength coach] Dave Pomante really pushes us,” Cochran said. “During the week, we work so hard, and he is there cracking the whip on us. Everyday he puts my nose to the grindstone to keep me going. He’s relentless. He’s an excellent coach.”
Pomante views Cochran as an all-around great player to train, he said.
“I’ve been coaching a long time. As far as an individual, he is one of the top guys I have coached. His work ethic, the way he treats others, coachability — he strives to do it right. He has had improvement over the last four years, playing at a high level,” Pomante said. “I couldn’t ask for a better person. His actions speak volumes, and that’s one of the things that defines him. He walks the walk, because he speaks so little. I don’t think I’ve had someone work as hard as Aaron.”
Cochran said that each of his teammates is equally important to him.
“All my guys, all my brothers. Especially God — I thank him everyday to play this sport. The people around me, the three other defensive linemen and all the others too — I care about them more than anything,” he said.
In addition to his teammates, Cochran retains a deep respect for Whitworth and what it stands for.
“I love Whitworth University so much. It’s hard to put into words,” Cochran said. “I love walking around this campus and I know everyone worked hard to be here. This is the same size as my hometown and it’s nice to see familiar faces, going to classes and meeting people. It blows my mind to see all the people who will go out to do great things with their lives.”
Cochran is a role model player on and off the field, Head Coach John Tully said.
“He’s a great young man, a leader, and a captain with tremendous work ethic who has had an outstanding senior season. He has been an incredible worker since being at Whitworth. He is a perfect example of the team and has been inclusive of the younger players. It’s been a pleasure to have him on the team,” Tully said.
Cochran and the Whitworth Pirates will play against Pacific at the Pine Bowl this weekend in hopes of starting off conference play with an end to a two-game losing streak.
Tyler Jezierski Staff Writer
Contact Tyler Jezierski at firstname.lastname@example.org