Randall Cobb had a heck of a day yesterday. He scored a Touchdown throwing, catching and running (on a punt return) and was a regular Wildcobb run into the Endzone from hitting for the nearly impossible “football cycle.” He was given yet another award that I didnt know existed (The National “Punt Returner of the Week”) and was awarded a helmet sticker from the ESPN College Football Crew. It was of course another impressive day for Cobb and it led to a comment on our postgame show on WHAS from a caller that is worthy of some exploration, mainly could Randall Cobb end up the best to ever play football for the Big Blue? On the surface it sounds like an exercise in hyperbole. Assuming he comes back for his Senior season, Cobb is just barely over halfway through his University of Kentucky career. However when you start to look at what Cobb does, how many different ways he does it and just how important he is to the program…well it is at least worth considering.
One thing is clear, Cobb is the most versatile player to ever put on the uniform. When one considers that he came into Kentucky and played some time as a starting QB as a true Freshman, is a WR with two of the biggest catches in recent school history (the Arkansas comeback), runs the Wildcat with such reckless abandon that it produced two of the biggest SEC road wins of the modern era (Auburn and Georgia), is arguably one of the nation’s best punt returners AND he holds for all kicks….well that is simply astounding. And it isnt just that he does all of these things, it is that he does them at such a high level. He is without question the best WR and punt returned on the team and there is an argument he could be the best runner and QB as well. Every time Cobb is on the field, the opposing team must game plan for him and it has led none other than Mel Kiper Jr to call Cobb the most versatile player in America. Throw in the fact that Cobb was so widely overlooked in recruiting circles that he slipped out of Tennessee’s grasp when he was in their backyard, and what he has accomplished is remarkable, and at least at UK, unprecedented.
However when you look into the conversation of the best player ever, other variables emerge. It is hard to compare skill position players to those who play on the lines or on Defense, but with that in mind, Cobb is certainly in the conversation of the greatest to wear the cleats. If you look at the era since I have been following UK football intently (the last 25 years), the only players who can really lay a claim to being on Cobb’s level are Tim Couch and Moe Williams. Both guys put up tremendous statistics and were dominating at their positions. Williams is, along with Sonny Collins, probably the best RB in school history and few would argue that Tim Couch is the greatest passer in school history. If you go back a little farther, one would probably insert Derrick Ramsey into the discussion as he set the early standard for versatility at UK with his play in the late 70s. Callers to the show last night wanted to add Dicky Lyons Sr. to the discussion, but I will admit to not knowing enough about his career to determine how he compares to the Legend of Cobb. I do know the modern guys a bit more and while as of today Couch would probably rank ahead of Cobb for me, a career that progresses along the same trajectory as Randall’s does now could easily pass the Leslie County legend in my mind.
Acknowledging that my football historical knowledge is not in the ballpark of my UK basketball memory, I ask some of the old-timers on here to also contribute. Considering his versatility, impact on the program, etc, is it feasible that Cobb could finish as the greatest ever? Few would argue he is there now…but does the potential exist? I think the answer is yes and I am excited to see if he can make the boldest of statements (the best to wear the jersey) potentially become reality.