Randall Cobb is a legend at Kentucky. That is a fact. You may debate his place in Kentucky lore -- ahead or behind Tim Couch, somewhere near or far relative to George Blanda, Derrick Ramsey-esque, whatever. Kentucky fans are entitled to place him where they will in the rather limited pantheon of Kentucky football gods.
Make no mistake, however, there is no debate at all about whether or not he belongs in the pantheon, only which pedestal he will occupy.
When Cobb came to Kentucky, he immediately impressed the coaches, something you almost never see from a player ranked at only 3 stars from Rivals. Five star players have come to Kentucky and made less of an impression than Cobb did, which either illustrates just how underrated he was out of high school, or how overrated some other prospects have been. Only the most plugged-in of Kentucky football fans really knew what we had in Cobb, and for most of us, he seemed to burst on the scene.
Cobb wasted no time in making an impact. In his very first game versus the Louisville Cardinals, he caught 3 passes for 31 yards. In the win against Arkansas in 2008, he caught five passes for 73 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a freshman. Against a major SEC foe. As a freshman, this relatively unheralded player from Alcoa, Tennessee whom the mighty Tennessee Volunteers ignored until the very last minute scored 9 touchdowns for Kentucky.
Cobb holds the career touchdown record at Kentucky with 37. He holds the single-season all-purpose yards record with 2,396. He's fifth and sixth in career pass receptions and yardage, respectively. He lead the team in every way possible almost from the day he arrived on campus. Cobb, put simply, is a great football player on a team with very few who qualify as even "very good."
There is no good way to say goodbye to those you love, and Cobb announced his departure tearfully, and no doubt with some regrets. But he says he feels called to move on to the next level, and I think most Kentucky fans are inclined to agree with his judgment that he can do no more to enhance his draft status here short of a Heisman Trophy, and that is just about impossible on a team like Kentucky.
I am sad to see Randall go, but at the same time, I am incredibly happy that he didn't suffer a severe injury while he was at Kentucky, a la teammate Derrick Locke. Both Locke and Cobb have the same giant negative in their pro prospects, despite their prodigious heart and remarkable skills -- they are both very small men, and football is a big man's sport.
But size has never deterred either man in their quest for excellence, and Randall Cobb is as ready as anyone has ever been to move on to the next level from Kentucky. I hope you will all join me in wishing Randall fair winds, calm seas, and Godspeed in his quest to play in the NFL, along with much success. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind about the latter -- his indomitable will will see to that.