Dallas Goedert, Jack Cochrane add to South Dakota's Super Bowl history
Eagles tight end, Chiefs linebacker latest to play in big game
For the second year in a row, South Dakota will be represented by both teams in the Super Bowl.
Jack Cochrane, a backup linebacker for the Chiefs, played for the USD Coyotes. And the Eagles have Dallas Goedert, the former South Dakota State star and Britton native who has risen to become one of the best tight ends in pro football.
A third, former South Dakota State quarterback Chris Oladokun, spent this year on the Chiefs practice squad but won't be active for Sunday's big game.
Last year, former SDSU linebacker Christian Rozeboom got a ring playing for the Los Angeles Rams, while Parkston native Riley Reiff was a member of the AFC champion Bengals but didn't play due to an ankle injury.
That South Dakota can plan on being represented in the Super Bowl more often than not these days is a testament to the rise of high school and college football within the state.
Including Oladokun, 17 players either from South Dakota or who attended a South Dakota college played in the NFL this season.
It wasn't that long ago that it was a big deal if more than a couple NFL players had ties to the state. Now you can be assured there will be at least a couple taking the field every Sunday.
That's what two decades of Division I status and an aggressive commitment to youth sports training has done for football in South Dakota.
Dallas Goedert one of NFL's top tight ends
Goedert's story is etched into South Dakota legend by now. A multi-sport star at Britton-Hecla, Goedert turned down a scholarship offer from Division II Northern State to walk-on at SDSU, and in short order turned himself into the best tight end in school history. He had 92 receptions as a junior and 72 as a senior, going over 1,000 yards both seasons.
At 6-foot-5 and 260-pounds with giant hands and impressive speed and leaping ability, not to mention glue-like hands, he was an obvious pro prospect, and was taken by the Eagles in the second round of the 2018 draft. Philadelphia was the defending Super Bowl champ at the time, and five years later they're back, with Goedert a big part of it.
In five seasons he's caught 248 passes for 2,997 yards and 19 touchdowns. He missed five games due to injury this year but still finished with 55 receptions for 702 yards. Late in the 2021 season, the now 28-year-old signed a four-year extension with the Eagles worth $59 million, with $35.7 million of it guaranteed.
He figures to play a significant role Sunday for an offense that has been boosted by the emergence of quarterback Jalen Hurts and running Miles Sanders, while second-year wideout DeVonta Smith (95 catches for 1,196 yards) has given the Eagles a deep threat to make Goedert even more dangerous over the middle.
Goedert will also be motivated by the tight end on the opposite side of the field from him. Kansas City's Travis Kelce is a future Hall of Famer, eight-time Pro Bowler and one of the tight ends Goedert most admired and modeled himself after while still at South Dakota State. Kelce had 110 catches for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.
Jack Cochrane fought his way to Super Bowl Sunday
The USD Coyote defense has had its ups and downs in recent years, but Cochrane was a rock for them at linebacker.
A four-year starter and three-time all-conference pick, the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder from Mount Vernon, Iowa, Cochrane could do it all.
As a senior, he guided the Coyotes to the FCS playoffs, leading the team and ranking fourth in the Missouri Valley Football Conference with 103 tackles while also grabbing four interceptions and notching a pair of sacks. In all he started 39 games in his career as a Yote, finishing his career sixth on the USD all-time list in tackles with 327. He was one of the league's most respected defensive players, both by opposing players and coaches, and was three times voted captain at USD while also earning a pair of academic All-American nods, highlighted by being named the Valley's scholar athlete of the year in 2021.
Those intangibles probably go a long way in explaining how Cochrane fought his way to Super Bowl Sunday.
Though he went undrafted, he signed with the Chiefs as a rookie free agent the next day, and went about working his way onto a roster.
Though he was waived at the end of training camp, the Chiefs signed Cochrane to their practice squad the next day. That made him officially a professional football player, but the role would be short-lived.
After just two games, Cochrane was elevated to the active roster, and he never left it, playing in 17 games (counting the playoffs) for the AFC champions. He's appeared exclusively on special teams, taking the field for 299 plays on various kick, punt and return teams and getting credited for nine tackles.
Other South Dakotans to play in the Super Bowl
Players listed with either their hometown or college connection:
Lyle Alzado, Yankton College
Super Bowl 12, Broncos
Super Bowl 18, Raiders
Ordell Braase, Mitchell, USD
Super Bowl 3, Colts
Matt Chatham, USD
Super Bowls 36,38, 39, Patriots
Dallas Clark, Sioux Falls
Super Bowl 41, Colts
Tom Compton, USD
Super Bowl 51, Falcons
Nate Gerry, Sioux Falls
Super Bowl 52, Eagles
Corbin Lacina, Augustana
Super Bowl 38, Bills
Jim Langer, SDSU
Super Bowls 7,8, Dolphins
Paul Laaveg, Sioux Falls
Super Bowl 7, Commanders
Karl Mecklenburg, Augustana
Super Bowls 21, 22, 24, Broncos
Doug Miller, Sturgis, SDSU
Super Bowl 29, Chargers
Jay Novacek, Martin
Super Bowls 27, 28, 30, Cowboys
Craig Puki, Deadwood
Super Bowl 16, 49ers
Riley Reiff, Parkston
Super Bowl 56, Bengals
Christian Rozeboom, SDSU
Super Bowl 56, Rams
Adam Timmerman, SDSU
Super Bowls 31, 32, Packers; 34, 36, Rams
Adam Vinatieri, Rapid City, SDSU
Super Bowls 31, 36, 38, 39, Patriots; Colts 41, 44