Ten years ago, Casey Cochran would still be playing football. But after suffering a concussion in the season-opening loss to BYU, and knowing all that we now know about head injuries, the redshirt sophomore has called it quits on a promising college career.
Ten years ago, there would be questions about Cochran's toughness. But not now. Not with all the recent research, the NFL's impending $765 million concussion settlement, and the never-ending stream of retired players who are mental shells of their former selves from repeated blows to the head that went undiagnosed, ignored or both.
Twenty years from now, Cochran wants to be able to remember college, even if that means never playing football again.
''A silver lining in this matter is that Casey has an interest in pursuing a career in coaching,'' UConn coach Bob Diaco said in a statement. ''We can now accelerate his development in that area as he transitions from a player role to a mentor role as he continues to serve the team.''
Cochran was one of former coach Paul Pasqualoni's prized recruits, the in-state all-everything quarterback that would give the Huskies something they lacked since Pasqualoni took over in 2011: a smart, talented quarterback who could put points on the board. Cochran didn't make his first start until nine games into the 2013 season, more than a month after Pasqualoni had been fired. But when Cochran took the field he did what no one else could: win. He led UConn to three straight victories -- their three only victories -- and entered the offseason as the heavy favorite to keep the job under new coach Bob Diaco.
After a strong spring and preseason, that's exactly what happened. Right up until Cochran suffered that concussion at the end of the BYU game. But sometimes life has different plans for us, and for Cochran, that means no more football. It had to be an incredibly tough decision but ultimately, the right one for Cochran and his family.
The Huskies, meanwhile, are left with Chandler Whitmer, who started every game in 2012 and four games last season, and who replaced Cochran in the lineup last week. Behind him: sophomore Tim Boyle, whom the team had hoped to redshirt.