UK Football

Cobb's main role will be routes

Randall Cobb primarily will be running routes and catching passes when Kentucky begins spring football practice Wednesday morning.

Cobb also will take some repetitions at quarterback, according to UK Coach Rich Brooks.

The sophomore is cleared for "full go" after arthroscopic knee surgery, but he will be limited to non-contact drills early in the 15-practice schedule. "We want to ease him in," Brooks said.

Cobb finished the 2008 regular season as the only player nationally who was a starting quarterback and regular punt returner. He will see most of his playing time at wideout, especially if Mike Hartline settles in as the regular quarterback.

"Randall gives us a big-time playmaker out there on the receiving end," Brooks said. "Randall's future long-term is at receiver. That doesn't mean we will not use him at quarterback. We'll have a more refined package for him."

Cobb passed for 542 yards and two touchdowns while catching 21 passes for 197 yards last season. He also averaged 8.4 yards on 11 punt returns.

Hartline regained the starting job when Cobb was injured in the Tennessee game. Hartline was named the Cats' Most Outstanding Offensive Player in the 25-19 victory over East Carolina in the Liberty Bowl.

Brooks said he is eager to begin workouts and anticipates the Cats making a run for a fourth consecutive bowl game, which Kentucky has never achieved. Especially interesting for Brooks will be the development of several players who made strides in preparation for the bowl game.

"There is wide-open competition at every position," Brooks said. "That's the only way you can get better. If you rest on your laurels, you can't get better."

Like their coach, the Wildcats are ready to get on the field again. Coming off the third consecutive bowl victory has senior-to-be defensive tackle Corey Peters feeling good entering spring practice.

"Everybody's pretty much as experienced as you'd like them to be," he said. "We know what we're supposed to be doing. We'll try to fine-tune some things to get better."

Peters is expecting the Wildcats to improve from last season.

"At times, we took a step back," he said. "We had a lack of focus. Our focus is different now. The offense struggled at times, and the defense could've been a lot better. Mental mistakes kill you. We can't live with that."

On offense, senior Zipp Duncan has moved from guard to left tackle with a goal of improving the Wildcats' running game this fall.

"We didn't get it done," he said. "We've got to come out with the attitude that we're able to run the ball no matter what the situation."

Duncan said making the transition to tackle won't be easy, but "that's what spring practice is for. At guard, you deal with bigger guys. Now, I'll be dealing with speed rushers."

Earlier in his UK career, Duncan was moved to guard because the line needed immediate help, according to Brooks.

"He was undersized but athletic and competitive," he said. "He competed against (ex-Cat) Myron Pryor and Corey Peters. He might be relieved to get out on the edge and not face the size and explosive power of inside players."


Brooks updated the status of several injured Wildcats, including tailback Derrick Locke, who will miss spring practice with a knee injury. He is expected to be cleared for workouts June 8.

"He is running ahead of schedule," the coach said. "He has been a master pupil in the rehab room. We've been very encouraged and happy at this stage of his rehab."

Brooks had another "injury" to report: "We also have a pulled hamstring from Alan Cutler that may limit his playing time early," he said. "I thought I might see him here, but obviously he's getting treatment." Brooks said he couldn't resist the comment.

Lexington sportscaster Cutler chased former UK basketball coach Billy Gillispie through the Joe Craft Center last week, with a videographer following them.

Brooks also said media members would be allowed to run with the players during conditioning workouts "so you can keep up with your interviews." There were no takers.