Ronald Cochran is still relatively new to the game of football.
The former Olive Branch offensive tackle played only one year of high school football but his lone season was solid enough to land him a full ride to Mississippi State.
Football came quite natural to him, but Cochran appreciated the opportunity to redshirt his initial year on campus to gain experience at his craft.
“(Redshirting) helped me because everything wasn’t coming at me this fast and then I’d have to play in the game,” Cochran said. “I had time to learn when I came in. I’ve had a whole year to get adjusted to the program.
“I’ve been doing a lot of learning, especially on technique. I’ve also been learning the why’s and how’s of the offensive line position. I just try to make sure I stay locked in every day and focus so I don’t miss something. I just try to get better every day.”
Cochran was educated at practice while serving as the scout team tackle. There it was trial by fire going against MSU’s talented assortment of defensive ends such as Ryan Brown, Nelson Adams, A.J. Jefferson and future NFL player Preston Smith.
“It’s way faster and people are much stronger than in high school,” Cochran said. “You have to know more here. In high school, coaches would just tell you to block somebody and you’d block them all the way down field. Here, you have to understand where the safeties and corners are and what the linebackers are doing.”
Other aspects the Bulldogs coaching staff wanted to see the former high school basketball player improve on was his size and strength. Cochran arrived at 6-foot-5, 257-pounds but after a year in a college weight program is already up to 308-pounds.
Although he knew redshirting is what is best for his future, the competitor in Cochran couldn’t help but get the urge to play when Saturdays rolled around last fall.
“It was tough watching because I wanted to be out there,” Cochran said. “But at the same time it was fun because I knew that my time was coming. We had a good season and I had a good time cheering on the guys.”
When Cochran does suit up for the first time in Hattiesburg on Sept. 5, he will do so against the same Southern Miss team he committed to as a two-star prospect. Cochran flipped his commitment to State on national signing day in 2014 and believes he made the right choice.
“I’ve been real happy being here,” Cochran said. “I love the atmosphere, people and coaches. I feel like they care about us and only want the best for us.”