Scouting the Cats

Freshman QB Cobb is UKs 'it' guy

Playmaker has it all, except for the position

ccosby@herald-leader.comAugust 24, 2008 

  • Quarterbacks

    This is the last installment of an eight-part series examining Kentucky’s football team by position.

Kentucky quarterback Randall Cobb is listed at 5-foot-11. Here’s a look at some other quarterbacks at BCS programs who are under 6 feet tall:

Todd Reesing, Kansas (5-11, 200): Threw for 3,486 yards and 33 TDs in leading the Jayhawks to a 12-1 record and Orange Bowl win.

Cody Hawkins, Colorado (5-11, 200): Son of Colorado coach Dan Hawkins, Cody started 13 games for the Buffaloes, throwing for 3,015 yards with 22 TDs and 17 interceptions.

Russell Wilson, N.C. State (5-11, 190): One of three quarterbacks left standing in what started as a five-man battle at the beginning of fall camp. One of the players Wilson passed on the depth chart was Lexington Catholic product Justin Burke, who transferred to Louisville.

David Pittman, Minnesota (5-11, 185): Junior-college transfer is expected to compete for time at quarterback but can also play running back, receiver and defensive back.

Cannon Smith, Miami (5-11, 189): True freshman is one of several newcomers who will be given a chance to give some life to a position that has struggled mightily in recent years.

Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon (5-11, 220): Junior-college transfer is in the thick of a wide-open quarterback competition at Rich Brooks’ old stomping ground.

Chip Cosby

At Southeastern Conference Media Days last month, Florida Coach Urban Meyer talked about how his Heisman Trophy quarterback Tim Tebow had the ‘it’ factor — certain intangibles that when combined with Tebow’s talent make for an extra special player.

UK offensive coordinator Joker Phillips says he has a player with the ‘it’ factor in freshman Randall Cobb.

“He has it,” Phillips said. “The first day he walked on campus, you could see it. Keenan Burton, the first day he walked on campus, you could tell he had it. I told pro scouts when they came around here that Keenan was the kind of guy who’d make everybody better. He’ll make the secretaries better, he’ll make the position coaches better. Randall Cobb is doing those things to this program right now.

“I don’t know what ‘it’ is, but he has it. I don’t know how to describe it, but you can see it in everything he does, whether it’s playing cornhole or playing ping-pong.”

But just exactly what role Cobb and his ‘it’ factor will play in the season opener against Louisville is unclear. Sophomore Mike Hartline is expected to get the nod at quarterback. Cobb has spent practice time at quarterback, wide receiver and punt returner.

Cobb has taken more snaps at quarterback than at any other position, but when Coach Rich Brooks was asked whether he’d put a true freshman back there in a season-opening rivalry game, he would only say, “Who knows?”

Cobb didn’t have an answer, either.

“I don’t even know,” he said. “They told me that I’d probably be taking some punt returns, but other than that, I have no idea.”

Phillips did say the coaching staff would have no reservations about putting Cobb in the game at quarterback if the need arises. Phillips said Cobb has the strongest arm on the team, and senior receiver Dicky Lyons Jr. said Cobb throws the best deep ball. Cobb, a left-hander, said he can throw the ball 65 yards.

About the only knock on the 5-foot-11 Cobb is his height. But Cobb wouldn’t be the first quarterback shorter than the NFL prototype to succeed at the college level. Missouri’s Chase Daniel, generously listed at 6 feet, was in the thick of the Heisman race last season. South Florida’s Matt Grothe, also listed at 6 feet, is viewed as one of the top quarterbacks in the Big East.

“There are so many quarterbacks under 6-foot who have done things in their career,” Cobb said. “It’s not like I’d be the first. I just love playing quarterback. I’ve always loved the leadership role, and I’m trying to become a leader on this team.”

Strangely enough, Lyons said Cobb’s lack of height can serve as an advantage to the receivers.

“I usually can’t see him because he’s so short,” Lyons said. “But the thing is, if you run a backside route, and you see the quarterback’s not looking at you, you kind of just wait to see where the ball goes. With him, you’ve got to wait until you see that ball come over the top of the O-line, so you really can’t look off of the quarterback. You’ve got to run your route hard every time, so it makes the receivers work hard on every play.”

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