Former University of Kentucky star and current Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb covered everything from sleeping in socks to childhood scars Monday night when he spoke to students and fans at the Singletary Center for the Arts.
But through the jokes and behind-the-scenes game stories, Cobb’s overarching theme was the motivation and work ethic that brought him from his days as a UK scholarship recruit to a professional football star with college graduation looming.
Cobb said he has been doing classwork in communications and leadership development between football seasons, rigorous workout schedules and speaking engagements. After eight years of studying, he just completed his paperwork to graduate from UK in May.
He will be the first college graduate in his immediate family and hopes he won’t be the last.
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“I’m trying to change the generations after me,” Cobb said, .
He credits his work ethic for his ability to balance his goals, but that work ethic had to change when he moved on from the Wildcats to Green Bay.
“When I was here I had my day planned out for me,” Cobb said. “I knew I was going to be in class at this time, practice at this time ... but once you get to the level I’m at now, it’s more that you have to build that structure for yourself.”
But Cobb said that remembering “it’s not just me” has helped him push through and motivate himself.
“Not just doing this for me, I have little kids that look up to me, I have coaches that have put in time day in and day out to help me get to the point I need to be at,” he said. “I owe it to them, to you all, the fans that come out to see us.”
He said that’s part of the reason he sets such high goals, “goals some people call crazy.”
“I try to push myself to that limit,” Cobb said. “I try to capitalize on the opportunities that I’ve been given.”
Pushing himself to the limit has brought Cobb to a lot of highs and lows, including a couple of scary injuries.
While on the field during a game against the Arizona Cardinals in January, Cobb started having trouble breathing.
“I thought I was getting exhausted,” he said. “I went to the sidelines, got a sip of water and it felt like I was choking. I didn’t know if I had grass in my mouth, maybe I’d swallowed a piece of my mouthpiece, but I’m choking.”
He said he thought he was going to throw up. But then he started to spit up blood.
After being rushed to the hospital, Cobb said he learned he’d had a small puncture in his lung. Had the puncture been any bigger, his lung might have collapsed, he said.
The night’s conversation was also full of lighter notes and stories of the “highs,” and his time at UK.
He talked about the “Harry Potter scar” on his forehead that he got in a tricycle accident when he was 3, how he listens to “Batman anthems” before games and how he always made time to eat at Ovid’s Cafe when he was at Kentucky.
One of the things Cobb said he misses most about Kentucky, though, is the down-to-earth people who “really care about their sports.”
“You all make it worth it ... the feeling that you gave us when we came out of that tunnel, that energy that you bring really makes a difference,” Cobb said.
At the end of the day, Cobb credited a lot of his success to his “old Kentucky home.”
“UK is like my second home,” Cobb said. “I look at Tennessee as the place that raised me, but I feel like Kentucky made me.”