When Randall Cobb arrived on campus three years ago, Joker Phillips paid the freshman from Alcoa, Tenn., the highest compliment.
He said Cobb was "a football player."
And what is it that makes someone "a football player?"
It's that it.
"You don't have it, and I don't have it," joked Phillips after Cobb accounted for 286 total yards to help Kentucky beat Vanderbilt 38-20 Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. "When you see it, you know it. I'm not sure what it is, but you know it."
"I don't know," said Cobb. "I think it's a blessing."
Leave it to Cobb to perfectly sum up it.
Question being: With Cobb saying earlier in the week that he plans to investigate the possibility of being an early entrant to the 2011 NFL Draft, was Saturday the last time we will see it, as it pertains to Randall Cobb, at Commonwealth Stadium?
"I'm not going to focus on that, I'm not going to worry about that right now," Cobb said afterward. "I just want to make sure I'm getting everybody ready and focused for Tennessee. We've got two weeks to prepare, and we're going to get ready, and we're going to take care of business."
See, one definition of it is being able to provide a team what it needs. And Cobb did that Saturday, and then some. After the sleepwalking Cats trailed hapless Vanderbilt 13-10 at halftime, he lined up in the WildCobb and took Kentucky's second snap of the second half 73 yards for a touchdown.
"That got the momentum back on our side," Phillips said.
Later in the same quarter, with UK backed up on its 20, Cobb took a snap on a play that was supposed to be a pass, then ended up scrambling, spinning, sliding, and finally soaring into open space for 52 yards before he admittedly ran out of wind and took it out of bounds.
"You can't coach that," Phillips said.
You can't coach the sparks that the 5-foot-11 186-pounder has given his team all three years here. Pound-for-pound, he is the best to ever play the sport at Kentucky, and certainly one of the best all-around players around, as in all around.
But when talking about it, let's not forget his leadership. He's no shrinking violet, Randall Cobb. He speaks his mind, witness his Twitter trouble earlier in the season. But notice that Phillips didn't muzzle his offensive star. The coach wanted him to be speaking, and to be heard.
Listen to Cobb, minutes after the Vanderbilt win, talking about the season finale at Tennessee:
"I'm not going to take any time off. I'm probably going to be in the film room tomorrow getting ready for them, doing everything I can — getting on the treadmill, getting some more extra conditioning in. I'm going to do everything I can to get ready for this game. ... If we could go play them tonight, I would."
Part of it is leaving no room for regret. And if this was in fact Randall Cobb's final game at Commonwealth Stadium, he could not have gone out much better.
"There was a point at the beginning of the fourth quarter where I was ready to just lay down on the sidelines," he said.
"He made play after play after play," Phillips said.
The last Randall Cobb plays we will be blessed enough to see in this town?
Who knows for sure. A lot will depend on what he hears the next few months. Cobb isn't a prototypical NFL receiver. They like them tall in the pros, and he's not tall. But he has speed, and toughness and, most of all, heart. There is always a need for those.
"I don't know if this was my final one or not," Cobb said. "Walking off the field, just feeling all the support and stuff, it was a great feeling. I love this place. I love Kentucky and everything they have done for me and the positions they've put me in, but that's something I'll look at after the season. Right now, I'm just focused on Tennessee."
That's a part of it.
"Let's not call him Randall anymore, let's call him It," joked Phillips, adding, "We just hope to see It again here soon."
Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, ext. 3226, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at Kentucky.com.