Gopher football is getting so close that former No. 5 Billy Cockerham could count on one hand (or on the back of his old jersey) the days left until kickoff. Cockerham (1996-99) started at quarterback in his last two seasons at Minnesota.
Cockerham was one of the Gophers' best running quarterbacks.
The program's No. 10 all-time passer, Cockerham threw 252-for-485 for 3,483 yards and 29 touchdowns over his career. As a junior in 1998, he came in late in the game against Michigan State and helped the Gophers to a comeback 19-18 win. Cockerham threw a touchdown pass to Luke Leverson, then ran 25 yards after an onside kick to set up a field goal.
His senior year, Cockerham set what was then a school record with 2,992 yards of total offense. His quarterback rushing record of 831 yards stood until MarQueis Gray broke it in 2011. Cockerham was the team's second leading rusher, and he reached the end zone 10 times on the ground. He passed for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns.
One of Cockerham's most memorable games was the 1998 upset at No. 2 Penn State. He racked up 277 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-24 passing. Most importantly, Cockerham led the drive that resulted in Dan Nystrom's game-winning field goal. His 46-yard completion to Ron Johnson, and a tipped pass caught by Arland Bruce, put Minnesota in field goal range.
Cockerham signed with a Vikings as a free agent in 2000, and spent time as a wide receiver on the practice squad. He went to the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe in 2002.