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By LARRY VAUGHT
It’s not easy to admit you were wrong, but Bookie Cobbins is not afraid to do so.
He came to Kentucky last year as a highly-touted quarterback/athlete out of New Orleans. He was ranked as the nation’s 26th-best dual-threat quarterback and a top 30 prospect in Louisiana.
He missed most of his senior season with a knee injury, he was expected to become a playmaker either at quarterback, receiver or Wildcat quarterback. Instead, he was redshirted when he had trouble grasping the offense and then in the spring after he was moved to full-time receiver, he was taken off the practice field because of academic deficiencies.
So how is Cobbins doing as he tries to show the UK coaches he can be a contributor when the season opens Sept. 2 at Louisville?
“Things are going pretty good. I like it right now and where things are and how we are standing. I am liking it, loving it as a wide receiver. It is pretty good. I like it. I am excited,” said Cobbins.
“I say I have grown up a lot. I finally realized that maybe I didn’t need to carry New Orleans around with me every time. I finally realized that I maybe needed to get a little New Orleans out of me and let me realize what environment I am in, so that’s what I did,” the personable Cobbins said.
“I just got my academics down. Just got my first ‘A’ few days ago when my teacher sent in her report. That is very exciting for me. Got my congratulations. Now I am excited about football. I didn’t play this spring. Now this has me extra excited for the fall. I am ready.”
He better be or he will have to deal with his mother — again.
“She was kind of mad over my academics. Actually, she was mad a lot,” Cobbins smiled and said. “She is the one who told me that maybe I needed to let New Orleans go a little bit and forget where I came from.
“Nobody is really going to forget where they came from, but you are going to try your best to not let others know where you came from. That’s what I did, and I have adapted to this environment, but there is still plenty of New Orleans in me. I am into being better, though, more than anything. Mom is pretty happy now. She is understanding what I am doing.”
Cobbins thought he was ready to showcase his abilities last spring before coach Joker Phillips put him in academic lockdown to make sure he was eligible for this season.
“It was very, very hard for me last year. It made me feel like I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. What is going on? What am I doing? But the thing about it is that it was good,” Cobbins said. “If I had played, who knows where I would have been at and who knows what I would have been doing. Right now I am liking wide receiver and I am kind of glad they did that. I am really like being a receiver and running routes. I was sure I was a quarterback, but what happened in the spring made me re-evaluate and learn to accept things.
“I’ve made a big change, a major change. By me saying I was doing the routes and not really doing them right last year and spring to now knowing what to do. It was kind of hard for me when I first did it. But now we are on par. I know what to do.”
He’s also learned life in the spotlight is not always easy.
“It is hard. Every time I do something, it bangs in the media. I am like, ‘Dang.’ I usually like it, but when something bad hits the fan it is, ‘Bookie can’t do this and Bookie can’t do this and Bookie has academic problem,’” Cobbins said. “Now I am straight. Everything is straight. I am good on grades. Everything is straight now. I am ready to play. I will be a big contributor this year.”
There’s that same confidence he did bring to UK. That has not changed — and shouldn’t. If he expects to be a playmaker, and UK certainly needs a playmaker, then he has to believe he is a playmaker.
“Throw it up, I will go get it. We have a lot of people that can make plays. Explosive freshmen, young receivers that can run. Some young defensive backs that are really good. We have a lot of people that can play. I think we are going to do very good,” Cobbins said.
And will the wait for UK fans to finally see him play be worth it?
“It is coming. Showtime. I am counting days until the first game. I am just waiting for Sept. 2. I am ready to finally show what I can do and do it the right way,” Cobbins said.