Vanderbilt TE Cockrell has cancer

The Sports Xchange

September 07, 2018 at 1:20 pm.

Tight end Turner Cockrell of Vanderbilt has been battling cancer for the last year, the Commodores announced on the school’s athletic department website on Friday.

Cockrell, a sophomore from Acworth, Ga., noticed two lumps on the right side of his neck last fall, according to the school statement.

“Prior to the diagnosis, my friends were joking like, ‘That’s cancer, you better get it checked out,'” Cockrell said. “I was like, ‘Nah, that couldn’t be it.’ When we got the official diagnosis, it took me by surprise. But having prior knowledge of cancer and treatment, I wasn’t terribly worried. I was obviously taken aback, but nothing I was too worried about right off the bat.”

In November, he was diagnosed with melanoma and a month later he underwent surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes from his neck and later had radiation therapy for 20 consecutive weeks.

Despite the treatment, doctors said the cancer spread and a full-body scan in July disclosed unusual growths in Cockrell’s lungs. He is undergoing treatment at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he was scheduled for a procedure on Friday.

Cockrell watched Vanderbilt’s season-opening 35-7 victory over Middle Tennessee last week from the coach’s suite in the press box and was presented the game ball by his teammates afterward.

The 6-5, 230-pound Cockrell was a three-star prospect out of Allatoona High School in Acworth in the 2016 signing class. He has not played in a game for Vanderbilt.

Cockrell made 13 receptions for three touchdowns and an average of 25.3 yards per catch for Allatoona’s run-oriented offense while earning all-state honors a senior, and set a school record with 93-yard touchdown reception in state semifinals.