Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Kentucky’s Rich Brooks, who’s been around his share of good football players in his more than 40 years of coaching, almost gushes when he talks about Randall Cobb.
“He is the ultimate playmaker and leader and as exciting a football player as I’ve ever been around,” Brooks said. “He’s almost taken it upon himself to carry us on his shoulders in the fourth quarter the last two games.”
Cobb, a 5-11, 188-pound sophomore, was sensational in the 28-26 loss to South Carolina two weeks ago. He was just as good last week in the 21-14 win at Auburn.
When the Wildcats need a play, he’s the guy they turn to -- whether he’s lined up at quarterback, receiver or returning kicks.
He’s tied for second in the SEC with seven touchdowns -- four receiving and three rushing -- and is the only player in the league with more than 300 yards receiving and 200 yards rushing.
One of the most underrated players in all of college football, Cobb sat down this week to discuss his diverse role and what’s next for the Wildcats as they head into a three-game home stretch beginning with Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday:
What’s it say about the team’s resolve that you were able to put behind you those three straight tough losses and go to Auburn and win, where Kentucky hadn’t won in 43 years?
Randall Cobb: The biggest thing was that we played as a team and played a full 60 minutes. We had the two big losses to Florida and Alabama and then to play South Carolina so close and not win was really tough, but we stayed together and did what we needed to do to pull out a big win.
A lot of people probably thought you guys were in trouble at Auburn with your quarterback, Mike Hartline, going down and cornerback Trevard Lindley being out for the second straight game. But this isn’t the same old Kentucky, is it?
RC: It’s definitely not the same old Kentucky. This program has been on the rise for the past few years, and it’s something we want to continue. One of the things we want to build here is depth and being able to go to a quality backup when someone’s out or something happens and know they’re going to be able to take care of their job.
So what are you -- a receiver, quarterback, slash guy? When somebody asks you what position you play, what do you tell them?
RC: I tell them that I’m a football player. I do whatever the coaches ask me. I just love the game so much that it doesn’t matter where I’m at. If you want to put me at quarterback, that’s fine. I’ll play receiver, return kicks, play on special teams. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I’m on the field helping this team out somehow. That’s all I’m worried about.
With you being a quarterback in high school and able to throw the football, does that put more pressure on defenses when you’re in the Wildcat formation?
RC: Yeah, it doesn’t let them read it as fast because I do have the ability to throw. I can still throw the ball, and they have to respect that. If they don’t respect that, then I think you’re going to see us throwing the ball a lot more.
Some of the coaches in this league describe you as being one of those guys who probably wouldn’t run a blazing time in the 40-yard dash, but when you put on pads, that your football speed is as good as anybody’s. Would you agree with that?
RC: I know I’m not the fastest guy or the strongest guy. But on the football field, I play with so much heart that I don’t want to be tackled and don’t want to be brought down. I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure that doesn’t happen. If that means running away from guys, then I’m going to do the best I can to run away from them.
How much better are you now that you know your role and have been through this league once before?
RC: I know there are going to be ups and know there are going to be downs. You’ve just got to play through them. I know the offense like the back of my hand now and know it from the quarterback’s perspective and receiver’s perspective. I can just go out and play and not have to think as much.
Did you fight the move to receiver much, especially since you were recruited as a quarterback?
RC: I didn’t really fight it that much because I felt like I had a better chance of going on to the next level at receiver, and my coaches thought that, too. So I embraced the move because I knew it was for the best. But at the same time, in the back of my head, I was like, ‘Man, I still feel like I can be a full-time quarterback and do those things back there,’ so it was a little tough at times. But knowing it was the right move, not only for me, but for this team made it a lot easier.
What about Brooks do you admire the most?
RC: That he’s a great man. He’s a great coach, too, but the things he does for his players and the way he treats his players are why guys want to play for him. You look at what he’s done in his career and how hard he’s worked to turn this program around, and it’s something we all take pride in.
You’ve won three straight bowl games. What’s the next step for this program?
RC: We want to be one of those teams that people can’t just look at and say, ‘Oh, we can mark them down as a win.’ We want to be one of those teams where they stress about having to play us and look at Kentucky as a big game. We’ve been to bowls and won bowls. The next step is getting to a BCS bowl.