UK Football

UK welcomes Cobb-for-Heisman chatter

Kentucky's Randall Cobb returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown during the second quarter Saturday night. Cobb had 207 all-purpose yards.
Kentucky's Randall Cobb returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown during the second quarter Saturday night. Cobb had 207 all-purpose yards.

The legend of Randall Cobb grows by the week.

Earlier this season, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said Cobb might be the best all-around player in college football. After Cobb threw a touchdown pass, caught a touchdown pass and scored on a punt return against Western Kentucky last week,'s Chris Low called Cobb the best all-around player in the Southeastern Conference and ranked him the No. 3 Heisman Trophy candidate in the league. Meanwhile, T-shirts promoting Cobb for the Heisman have started to pop up around Lexington.

While Kentucky probably would have to pull some major upsets for Cobb to get serious Heisman consideration, UK Coach Joker Phillips said there's no question the junior wide receiver is qualified.

"The Heisman is, to me, the best football player in the country," Phillips said. "And he's the best football player I've been around."

Cobb tends to shy away from the accolades and prefers to listen to the naysayers.

"I'd rather focus on the negative to continue to push myself to get better instead of trying to feel like I've reached the top already, because I'm nowhere near there or where I need to be," Cobb said.

Problem is, Cobb is so highly touted these days, it seems as though he'd have a hard time coming up with negative fuel. He usually has to dig deep. Sometimes it could be the two-star rating he received from coming out of Alcoa High School. (Cobb said it went up to three stars after Tennessee offered a scholarship.) Many schools also questioned whether Cobb could play quarterback in college, or whether he was big or fast enough to excel as a wide receiver.

"Sometimes I have to go back to things when I was getting recruited," he said. "I still have articles from when I was getting recruited, stuff on my computer where fans were (questioning) what kind of person I'd be. Any negative things from Alcoa, I try to use all that negativity from the past and keep it fresh in my mind."

Phillips said Cobb's dismissing of the positive in favor of the negative is just part of his ultra-competitive personality.

"Randall's that type," Phillips said. "He lost a cornhole tournament this summer, and it was ugly. He couldn't wait to get on the practice field so he could win something, because he knows he always wins out here on the field. He's harder on himself than anybody; he critiques his first step. He might catch a ball and not catch it clean, and he's as hard on himself with that as he is if he drops the football. He'll find something. I like that, because you know he'll respond in the right way."

The last thing Cobb and Phillips want is for the Heisman talk to serve as a distraction.

After taking a few questions about Cobb and the Heisman earlier this week, Phillips quickly turned the attention to Akron, UK's opponent Saturday night.

"We're worried about this game here, too," Phillips said. "We've got to get the ball in Randall's hands, and he does what he does when he gets it. If we continue to win and get the ball in his hands, all that other stuff will take care of itself."

Phillips sounded confident that no amount of attention or hype would affect Cobb.

"With some people it could be a distraction, but with Randall he's way too focused for that," Phillips said. "I wouldn't think something like that would bother him."

The Cobb-for-Heisman talk isn't universal just yet. Each week, 15 ESPN college football analysts rank their top five Heisman candidates, and Cobb's name was absent on one list.

That's just more fuel.

"That just showed I've still got a lot to prove, and that's what I've been doing my whole life, proving people wrong," he said.