Kentucky coach Joker Phillips is still searching for something Randall Cobb doesn’t do well on the football field.
“That’s his comfort zone,” Phillips said. “There’s nothing on the football field that he cannot do. He eats it. He sleeps it. He drinks it.”
Unabashedly, Phillips describes Cobb as the Wildcats’ version of Hines Ward, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ gritty do-it-all star.
Florida coach Urban Meyer, who will see Cobb up close and personal this Saturday, describes him as one of the best players in the SEC -- period.
As for Cobb, he’ll leave it up to everybody else to assess where he rates among college football’s most complete players.
“That’s just something for somebody else to talk about and not anything I’m worried about,” said Cobb, who’s already accounted for touchdowns four different ways this season. “I’m always going to feel like I’m the best player on the field and will always have that mentality to go out there and be the best player on the field.
“I hear the hype, but it’s not something I really pay much attention to because it’s not something that’s going to get me an SEC or national championship.”
Make no mistake. That’s Cobb’s goal, to do something at Kentucky most people say can’t be done in football.
He appreciates the individual accolades, understands that he’s the face of the program and is happy his exploits have helped get Kentucky’s name out there nationally.
But what he wants more than anything is a title, and getting there this season goes straight through the Swamp.
“I think we’re prepared, and I think we’re mentally ready,” said Cobb, mindful that Kentucky was drubbed by 58 points in its last trip to Gainesville. “We just have to go in there with the attitude that we can play with this team. I think in the past, we sometimes played against the name instead of playing against the players. It’s the players we have to beat, not the Florida logo on the side of the helmets.”
The Florida game a year ago is one of only two that Cobb has played in over the last 19 contests that he's failed to score a touchdown.
He was second only to Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram last season in the SEC with 15 touchdowns. Through three games this season, he has two touchdowns receiving, one rushing, one passing and one on a punt return.
Also the Wildcats’ holder on placement kicks, Cobbs has even lobbied to get in on defense.
“I tried to make my run at defense so I could get some picks, but that didn’t work out,” Cobb said. “I guess my next task is to get a kickoff return for a touchdown. I still don’t have one of those.”
Phillips has no doubt that Cobb could play defense. He’s just too valuable to the Wildcats everywhere else right now.
His touchdown run this season was a 51-yarder against Louisville out of the Wildcat formation -- or the “WildCobb” formation -- as it’s known in the Bluegrass. It’s a formation the Wildcats really haven’t had to use much of to this point. But with SEC play beginning, Cobb figures to be back there in the shotgun increasingly more.
“We want his hands on the ball as much as possible,” Phillips said. “He understands the game and understands how to get things done.”
Being a former quarterback in high school, Cobb offers another dimension when he’s in the shotgun.
“When we do put him in the Wildcat position, if teams take away the play we have dialed up, Randall knows the offense well enough that he can give us the checks and audibles that will put us in the best play for that defense,” Phillips said. “He’s a special player.”
The 5-11 Cobb played at about 182 pounds last season. He said he’s up to 187 this season, but is the first to admit that he’s not the fastest guy.
What he is, though, is usually the hardest guy to get on the ground. He has great awareness, anticipates his blocking well and is fearless when it comes to doing whatever it takes to get into the end zone.
“I just want to be known as a football player,” Cobb said. “I know I’m not the fastest guy. If you take me to the combine, I’m not going to have the best numbers across the board. But when you put me on the field, I think my talent would be at a level where I could overcome the speed and the strength of other guys.”
Meyer, who spent some time chatting with Cobb this summer at the SEC media days, is convinced that Cobb will play in the NFL.
“I like classy guys who represent their school in the right way,” Meyer said. “He’s a dynamic player and is going to play at the next level, and I can’t wait until he gets the heck out of this league.”
Of course, Cobb is only a junior, and he’s got plenty of unfinished business at Kentucky before he even starts to think about the next level.
And being the Renaissance Man that he is, you know he’ll have plenty to fall back on with or without pro football.
In fact, he’s taking a jazz dance class this semester at Kentucky.
“I’m going to make my run at ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ ” Cobb said.
He was laughing when he said it. But, hey, the guy can do everything on a football field.
What makes you think he can’t dance?