Cockerham made an impact early in his freshman football season at Akron U in 1974. He came off the bench in the second half against Delaware to make 14 solo and four assisted tackles. He was a starter from then on. An Akron native, Cockerham led the team in tackles in 1974, '75 and '77. He still holds the school's single-season records for 107 solo tackles in 1975 and career marks of 373 solo tackles, 342 assisted tackles and 715 total tackles. He led the squad with six interceptions in 1976, when the team finished 10-3 and was runner-up in NCAA Division II. Cockerham was named Akron U's Athlete of the Year in 1977. He was also first team Little All-American in 1976 and '77.