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By LARRY VAUGHT
HOOVER, Ala. Ã¢â‚¬â€ No player has had a greater impact on Kentucky football the last two years than Randall Cobb.
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s done everything from catch game-winning passes to throwing game-winning passes to running for game-winning scores. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been special returning kicks and even holds for extra points and field goals.
More importantly, CobbÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leadership has been essential during two more bowl seasons and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also become one of the most popular players.
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said it was obvious early that Cobb was unique with the way he handled his recruitment after making an early verbal commitment to Kentucky before the start of his senior season in Alcoa, Tenn.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was thinking how he was a guy who committed to us early, didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t turn his back on people, listened to them when they recruited him and then every time they got up he said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœI appreciate your time and I am not going to waste your time any longer because I am going to Kentucky.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ That makes a guy like him a cave man,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Phillips.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see those kids any more. Not only did he deal with a lot of schools, but he did it to the school (Tennessee) that was 15 minutes away that won a national championship. The type of person he is is the reason he is the great player he is today. When he did that, I knew he would be special.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips took Cobb to one of his mini-camps this summer and the UK junior noted that he attended every Kentucky home game in 2007 after making his verbal commitment to the Wildcats.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœWere you at the LSU game?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ He said, Ã¢â‚¬ËœI was at every game.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ I asked about Georgia, Louisville and he said was at every game. His commitment was very strong and that just showed again whey heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so special,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said.
Cobb, an all-Southeastern Conference selection after last season and a preseason pick this year on the coachesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ team, plays receiver, is used at quarterback and returns kicks. He finished second in the SEC in touchdowns, third in punt returns, fourth in all-purpose yardage and seventh in scoring last season.
He led the CatsÃ‚Â in receiving with 39 catches for 447 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for 573 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also averaged 26.5 yards on kickoff returns and 12.8 yards on punt returns.
In 23 career games as a quarterback/wide receiver, Cobb has 889 yards rushing and over 644 yards receiving. He has scored 24 touchdowns.
He shared his insights on a variety of subjects as he prepares for his junior season.
Question: When you look back in your mind, what are going to be your best memories from your first two years at Kentucky?
Cobb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I guess just coming in and having the opportunity to play with Dicky Lyons (as a freshman) was definitely one of my highlights of my career. I learned so much from him and he was like a role model to me in some ways. I am not going to say in all ways because we all know how Dicky is. Being able to wear his jersey when he went down (with a knee injury) and come from behind to win the Arkansas game was great. Probably the Georgia game we lost my freshman year will stick out, too. We played them close and had a chance to win, so that was a heartbreaker.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“My sophomore year it was the Louisville (touchdown) catch and wins at Auburn and Georgia. We were in position against Tennessee for a big win and came up short like we did a year earlier against Georgia. There have been a lot of highlights in my career, but I definitely hope to make more.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Do you still see Lyons very much now that he is married and away from the UK football team?
Cobb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I still see him a little bit. We watched a Saints game during the season and played cards and that was fun. I get to see him a little bit and try to hang out with him as much as I can.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: What has been the biggest surprise based on what you thought your first two years would be like at Kentucky?
Cobb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“It really hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been hard. It has been tough at times, but not too bad. I guess I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect to have such a big role and impact that I had. I expected to come in and learn from some of the older guys, but when I got here I realized I had to step up and be one of those older guys early. I had to take on that role and be a leader.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: Do you ever imagine becoming the fan favorite that you have?
Cobb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“No. I am living a dream right now. I get so much love from everybody and everybody gives me so much support. I never really imagined it, but my family always looked at me as somebody that could be in this role. I am just happy that they raised me the way they did so I can handle the position I am in.
Question: What is life in Lexington like for you with fans adoring you so much?
Cobb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“It just depends on my mood. Most of the time I accept it and love it when people come up to me. One of the things I want to do in my life is inspire people and I have been put in a position where I have the opportunity to inspire. I take on that role and anytime a little kid or somebody comes up to me and asks for my autograph or picture, I have to accept it because I want to be part of their lives as much as they want to be part of mine.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Question: What do you think has made you such a fan favorite?
Cobb: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think it is just they see I give everything I have every time on the field and I think they respect that. That is something I want to continue to show and be part of the big plays like they want. Fans want me to have the ball a lot, or think they do. But if they only knew how I felt after a game I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think they would want me to have the ball as much as I do.Ã¢â‚¬Â