Tennessee Stat Book
Want to know what type of impact Randall Cobb will have on the Tennessee-Kentucky game on Saturday? Just check the scoreboard.
"I think you're talking about potentially a 14 to 21 point difference in one player about whether he was signed at Tennessee or went to Kentucky," UT coach Lane Kiffin said this week.
Perhaps the Vols could have signed Cobb in 2006 had former coach Phillip Fulmer's staff pursued him earlier, as Kentucky did. The Vols made a last ditch effort but ultimately the former Alcoa High School star stuck to his initial commitment to play for the Wildcats.
"I don't like that for two reasons," Kiffin said. "People always think about recruiting about making your own team better, 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.
"Not only is he not playing for you, but then you've got to play him every year."
The 5-foot-11, 188-poundCobb further emphasizes that point by playing so many positions. The sophomore has lined up at receiver and quarterback in the wildcat package and also has been used as a punt returner, kick returner and even holds for extra points. He has scored 14 touchdowns.
Cobb, who plays primarily at receiver, ranks in the top 10 of four SEC statistical categories.
He is first in the SEC in scoring among non-kickers with 8.4 points per game. He is third in punt return average (13.3), ninth in kick return average (25.2) and fourth in all purpose yardage (482).
Cobb's 3.3 receptions and 40.3 receiving yards per game ranks 12th and 16th in the SEC, respectively.
UT defensive tackle Wes Brown called Cobb a "great player".
"He can really run," the senior said.
Sure, Cobb is athletic, but when you ask coaches about him there's something innate that impresses them.
"His ability to make plays," Kiffin said. "He's not necessarily the fastest guy. He's not the biggest guy. He's one of those football savvy players; you see it.
"Whether it's catching a pass, whether it's taking a snap, whether it's taking a handoff, or whether it's returning (punts and kicks), he just has an ability for people not to get him down and make plays no matter where he's at."
Alcoa coach Gary Rankin saw proof of that when he coached Cobb for two seasons, 2006 and 2007.
"Some kids would be insulted if you asked them to do all that," Rankin said Wednesday on The Sports Page radio show when asked of Cobb's multi-purpose role at Kentucky. "But he loves playing.
"He's a competitor. He's a great kid. He's a smart kid. He's a driven kid. I really think he'll be a great player at the next level (in the NFL)."
However, Rankin admitted the quick success has been a bit surprising.
"If I said I wasn't surprised, it would be a lie because I don't think anybody could say they knew this was going to happen to Randall Cobb and I knew him as well as anybody," Rankin said. "I knew he would be a good player there. I had no idea he would have the kind of impact he's had on them in two years.
"You don't do that in the SEC. You don't jump in the SEC and start dominating at certain times at certain positions. I'm surprised he's done so much so quickly."