Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips and his staff are in the process of trying to finish out their 2011 recruiting class. But the Wildcats have already pulled off a recruiting coup for the BBVA Compass Bowl game against Pittsburgh on Jan. 8, as defensive tackle Mister Cobble has been cleared academically to play in the game.
The 6-foot, 321-pound Cobble had been penciled in as a starter after a strong showing in spring practice, but he was ruled academically ineligible before the season. Since Cobble already burned his redshirt year in 2009, Phillips figured it's better to get at least one game out of him than nothing at all.
Cobble has yet to play in a collegiate game, but he has shown the capability in practice to be a physical presence inside. Cobble will be a much-welcomed addition to a UK defensive line that has struggled against the run in 2010, and Pitt has been reliant all season on a dangerous running back tandem of Dion Lewis and Ray Graham. Cobble can also help fill the void left by former starter Mark Crawford, who was suspended for the season the week of the Tennessee game.
"We just made ourselves better," Phillips said. "Probably one of the biggest recruits we've had this year so far. It adds another big body inside. How many plays he plays, I don't know. But he's going to play."
Cobble said he found out the good news on Monday before practice.
"I'm trying to find tickets for everybody," Cobble said. "It's wonderful and amazing, and I'm thankful to God that I'm able to play."
Phillips said Cobble has been a force on the scout team.
"He's made our offense better already this year," Phillips said. "Hopefully he'll make our defense better by being eligible for this game."
Cobble said he changed around his study habits in the fall semester after he was ruled ineligible.
"I did everything the opposite that I did last semester," Cobble said. "I didn't procrastinate. I didn't chase the girls. I stayed in my room, I read my books, and I answered the phone when mama called."