KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin wasn't
around for Randall Cobb's recruitment. He wishes the previous staff
had recruited him a little harder, though.
Cobb won four straight state titles while playing a dozen miles
away from Knoxville in Alcoa, Tenn., but coach Phillip Fulmer's
staff didn't show much interest in him until after he'd signed with
The scholarship offer Fulmer extended came too late, and the
Tennessee "Mr. Football" stuck with his commitment.
"People always think about recruiting, about making your own
team better," Kiffin said. "But if you miss on a guy and he goes
within your conference and you don't take him, then it's a
double-whammy because not only is he not playing for you but then
you've got to play him every year."
Cobb is more than a double-whammy on the field for Kentucky
(7-4, 3-4 Southeastern Conference) thanks to his success in the
wildcat package, also known as the "WildCobb."
The sophomore leads the team at his traditional wide receiver
spot with an average 40.3 yards per game. He's second on the team
in rushing with an average 43.6 yards per game and has even
completed a couple of passes in place of injured quarterback Mike
"Every time the ball is in his hand, there's a potential for a
big play," Tennessee linebacker Rico McCoy said.
Need a kickoff or punt returner? Cobb handles those
responsibilities too. He leads the team with 13.3 yards on punts
and ran 73 yards on one return for a touchdown.
The 5-foot-11, 188-pound Cobb rushed for a career-high 109 yards
in the Wildcats' first win over Auburn in 43 years on Oct. 17 and
set up the game-winning touchdown with a career-long 61-yard run.
He ran for a pair of touchdowns in a win against Vanderbilt and
another two in Kentucky's first win at Georgia since 1977.
"He's not necessarily the fastest guy, he's not the biggest
guy, he's just one of those football-savvy players," Kiffin said.
"You just see it, whether it's catching the pass rush, whether
it's taking the snap, whether it's taking a handoff or whether it's
returning, he just has an ability for people not to get him down
and just to make plays no matter where he's at."
Cobb leads non-kickers in the SEC in average points scored per
game with 8.4 and ranks fourth with his 143.4 average all-purpose
yards, despite playing through injuries in recent weeks.
He's sat out a number of practices to rest an injured shoulder
and hamstring and allow several other bumps and bruises to heal.
"But he's like the Energizer bunny, he keeps on ticking,"
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said.
The Volunteers (6-5, 3-4) wish that wasn't the case. They've
struggled this season against players who work in the wildcat
package, most recently against Mississippi's Dexter McCluster, who
rushed for 282 yards and finished with 324 all-purpose yards,
setting school records in both categories in a Rebels win.
"It's our No. 1 priority to stop," Kiffin said. "The hardest
thing to defend is if the guy can throw the ball. ... It changes
all your fits, it changes all your rules."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)