ALCOA - Life has been pretty hectic for Randall Cobb since being drafted April 29 by the Green Bay Packers in the 2011 NFL draft, so he took a step back the past couple of days.
Cobb, former star at Alcoa High School and the University of Kentucky, returned to his hometown Thursday for a few days of fun and relaxation.
On Saturday afternoon, Cobb signed autographs for two hours at the Martin Luther King Community Center and later enjoyed the annual Independence Day celebration there.
"I've been away from home for so long," Cobb said before the autograph session. "Just to be back with my family and friends and get back with the community and celebrate the Fourth, it's a great opportunity to be back and enjoy some free time."
And no better place to do it than the MLK Community Center.
"I grew up in this center," Cobb said. "We had the Boys and Girls Club in here when I was younger. This is just a place I've always remembered."
Cobb played receiver, quarterback, and punt/kick returner for Kentucky the past three seasons and bypassed his senior season for the NFL. He was drafted with the 64th overall pick.
Since then, Cobb has stayed plenty busy - despite the NFL lockout that prevents rookies and other players from organized workouts at team facilities.
"Been everywhere," Cobb said. "Been out in L.A. a little bit for a photo shoot for rookie cards and pictures I'll be signing here, and training out there (in L.A.), and I went to Phoenix and trained with (Arizona Cardinals wide receiver) Larry Fitzgerald and a couple of the guys there, and I've been in Florida working out at IMG Academies and had a rookie symposium this past week."
Cobb spent part of Thursday and Friday working out with some of Alcoa High School's wide receivers and running backs in a field behind Alcoa Elementary School.
"That's very important to me," Cobb said. "They're the future.
"I'm trying to give back any way I can, and I think just me being around them and influencing them any way I can is the most important thing, but also showing them how I got to where I'm at with the hard work and dedication I had on the field, the training and working out and keeping myself ready and prepared for whenever the season came."
Many believe the Packers got a steal in Cobb with the 64th pick. He earned numerous All-America awards at Kentucky, where he was became perhaps the SEC's most versatile player.
The Packers see the 5-foot-10, 192-pound Cobb as a valuable addition to an already potent passing attack and a much-needed addition to an inconsistent return game.
Cobb will be ready for whatever the Packers throw at him.
"I think it's a perfect fit," he said. "They have a great offense, a great offensive scheme, a great offensive mindset, and I'm just hoping I can contribute in any way, and also in the return game."
For Cobb, there's no second-guessing the decision to skip his senior year at Kentucky.
"You never can look back on things," he said. "I was blessed to have the opportunity to take this step and go into the NFL. I'm fortunate to have the opportunity and I had to jump on it, and I was lucky enough to get picked up by the Super Bowl defending champions. It's been a great experience and I've never had any second thoughts about it."
Dave Link is a freelance contributor.