Now up at CoachCal.com: My take on UK's terrific trio of freshman, and their performance Friday night against ETSU. Also, find an interesting interview I did with the newest Wildcat fan sensation, the Kentucky Spidermen (these guys are committed). Now, on to Randall Cobb.
"The difference between a successful person and others, is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather, a lack of will." Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi
When University of Kentucky junior football player Randall Cobb arrived in Lexington in 2008, the Alcoa, Tennessee native was touted as the heir apparent savior of the newly relevant UK pigskin program. Promoted as a player who could pass, run, and catch, all with equal aplomb, Cobb was expected to be the player most responsible for the continuation of the program's recent football success.
And then we got a look at him. Listed at 5-11, 186 lbs, Cobb's physical stature seems more suited to that of a lead-off hitter, rather than a game-changing football star. But my how looks can deceive. For on the outside, for what the world sees, is only a small percentage of what the man is made of.
In the ever-changing world of college football, where the trend in desirable talent is heading toward the bigger, faster, stronger player, Cobb stands out as a man unblessed with the physical attributes most sought after by today's college football coaches -- Perhaps that is the reason the University of Tennessee, only 14 miles from Cobb's hometown, opted not to recruit the homegrown star until it was too late. And perhaps that is the reason the so-called recruiting experts opted to place only three-stars (on a five-star scale) next to Cobb's name as he prepared to enter college.
But, successfully measuring the "want to" in a player's heart is one of the reasons Kentucky football has risen from the ashes of irrelevancy. Taking those who the big boys have tossed aside, or ignored all together, has been the impetus behind the surge in UK's recent football success. And over the last five years (the neo-salad days of UK football) no other player wearing Kentucky blue and white epitomizes the spirit of a fighter, the spirit of a warrior, more than Randall Cobb.
All one has to do is look at the numbers, and then look inside the numbers, to ascertain how important Randall Cobb has been to the UK football program:
- Cobb has accumulated 4,321 all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving, returns) in his 34 games as a Wildcat -- That number places him third on UK's all-time all-purpose list, only 1,536 yards away from passing Derek Abney atop the list. Considering there are two games remaining on this year's schedule (assuming a bowl bid), and Cobb stays at UK for his senior year, he will most likely obliterate Abney's record.
- This season, Cobb has amassed 2,047 all-purpose yards, smashing the single-season record formerly held by Rafael Little (1,982 in 2005). Cobb's 186.1 all-purpose yards per game average this season leads the SEC (as well as the nation) by a large margin.
- Cobb's 1,483 career receiving yards is only 361 yards away from passing Quentin McCord for fifth place all-time at UK (Cobb is only 369 yards away from passing Dicky Lyons Jr. for fourth place). If Cobb stays for his senior year, passing Keenan Burton (2,376 yards) for second place on UK's career reception yardage list is certainly attainable.
- Cobb's 37 career all-purpose touchdowns (22 rush; 13 receiving; two returning) ranks first on UK's all-time list, easily surpassing Craig Yeast's 32 (over a four-year period). And for good measure, Cobb has tossed five touchdown passes, bringing his total touchdowns accounted for to 42 ... in 34 career games.
Aah, the touchdowns. Cobb doesn't merely score touchdowns, he scores game-winning touchdowns, putting an exclamation point on how positively influential he has been to the UK football program over the last three seasons. Here's a breakdown:
- In his freshman year (2008), in UK's 21-20 road victory at Arkansas, Cobb scored the final two touchdowns of the game, bringing UK back from a 20-7 deficit in the final 5:00 minutes of the game.
- In 2009, Cobb scored the following game-winning touchdowns: Versus UofL, Cobb put the 'Cats up for good with only 4:28 remaining in UK's 31-27 victory: Against Auburn, on the road, Cobb scored the winning touchdown with 3:17 remaining, securing UK's first win on The Plains since 1961: In UK's 24-13 win over Vanderbilt, Cobb scored the game-winning touchdown in the third quarter: And finally, in Kentucky's 34-27 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs, Cobb scored the game-winner with 9:55 remaining in the game.
- In 2010, Cobb scored the following game-winning touchdowns: Once again against UofL, Cobb, in the second quarter, scored the winning touchdown (his TD gave UK 20 points, four points more than UofL would score) in UK's 23-16 win: Against South Carolina, Cobb scored the winning touchdown with 1:15 remaining in the game, giving UK a victory over Steve Spurrier for the first time in 17 tries: And then Saturday against Vanderbilt -- While Cobb's two touchdowns weren't game-winning, both TD's put UK back on top -- The first, giving the 'Cats a 10-6 lead in the second quarter, and the second, giving UK a 17-13 lead in the third quarter (and electrifying the crowd to an alarming degree).
That's seven game-winning touchdowns, and two game changing touchdowns, all in less than three years of play.
All from a player not larger than the next guy, nor faster than the next guy, nor stronger than the next guy. Instead, Cobb possesses the all-important intangible that coaches across the nation dream about finding in a player -- A heart the size of Texas, and the "means" to take advantage of it. But where does it come from? This burning desire to compete, to win? Well, it can come from only one place ... Cobb hates to lose. He feels the losses deep inside, where most people have no feeling at all. He aches at the losses, while others shrug off defeat. The losses eat at him, like a parasite eating away at some unfortunate soul's insides.
And that's what makes Randall Cobb great. He has the will to win, because he despises losing with all of his fiber. He wears his determination, not like a perfectly tailored suit, no, his determination to win has been generously dispersed throughout his DNA. It's as much a part of him as his arms and legs, placed there by the gods of competition.
The will of this man from Alcoa is simply unsurpassed, and demonstrably so. And for that, all UK football fans should be grateful, for we have witnessed that which we all aspire to be: A leader, a winner, a difference-maker ... a Wildcat, through and through.
Thanks for reading and Go 'Cats!