Jan. 8, 2014
MADISON, Wis. – University of Wisconsin men’s soccer defenseman AJ Cochran had quite the year in 2013. Not only was the junior a Hermann Trophy semifinalist and first-team All-American but he also earned the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year honor.
Now the St. Louis, Mo., native will take his talents to the professional ranks as he signed a deal with the Generation adidas program, the MLS announced on Wednesday.
“It is an exciting time for the Wisconsin soccer program,” UW head coach John Trask said. “For AJ to be recognized by the MLS and to have the opportunity to continue playing soccer at the professional level is a tremendous testament to the work he has put in while at UW.”
By inking the deal, Cochran formally enters his name into the 2014 MLS Draft, which takes place on Jan. 15. The two-time first-team All-Big Ten honoree is a projected top-10 pick, according to TopDrawerSoccer.com.
After a season in which he earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, first-team All-Big Ten and first-team NSCAA All-American honors, Cochran became the first player in Badgers history to be named a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy, an award given annually to the nation’s top men's collegiate soccer player by the Missouri Athletic Club.
Cochran started in all 21 matches for the Badgers this season, guiding the team to its first NCAA tournament appearance in nearly two decades. Cochran anchored a back line that earned seven shutouts in 2013, while allowing just seven goals in Big Ten play.
The junior tallied six points on three goals in 2013, including a pair of game winners. His most memorable offensive performance came in a 4-3 comeback win over defending NCAA champion Indiana on Oct. 11, when Cochran recorded a pair of goals in the final 17 minutes of action to lead UW to victory in its conference home opener.
“AJ is a terrific example of what we want our student-athletes to be, both on and off the field, and he will be missed,” Trask added. “I wish him nothing but the best and I know he will be successful in his future endeavors.”
Despite encouraging collegiate players to turn professional before graduating with a degree, Generation adidas players are guaranteed educational grants to complete their degree.