After spending eight years playing in Green Bay with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it has been an “obvious change” for former University of Kentucky star Randall Cobb now that he’s signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys.
“I just have to take change for what it is — a fresh start. It’s going to be great for my career,” said Cobb.
Cobb knew his time might be over in Green Bay after he missed seven games in 2018 with a concussion and hamstring injury. He had 38 catches for 383 yards and two scores, his lowest totals since 2013 when he played in only six games due to injury.
Cobb had to settle for “only” the $5-million deal to establish himself with the Cowboys and prove he can still be an elite NFL receiver like he has been.
“In high school and college you dream of playing in the NFL and understand things that can happen if you do make it,” Cobb said. “It was always my dream to play at this level. I am thankful for the career I’ve had but I want to create more memories and play a lot more. I am excited that the fruits of my labor are yet to come.”
He has 470 catches in 105 NFL games for 5,524 yards — an average of 11.8 yards per catch — and 75 touchdowns. His best year was 2014 when he had 91 catches and 12 touchdowns and he also had 79 receptions and six scores in 2015.
“I would like to have not had the injuries I’ve had but that is part of the game and happens,” Cobb said. “I am glad some stuff happened when it did and not my last year at Kentucky or I might not have got drafted (in the second round of the 2011 draft).
“I am very, very happy and thankful to have played eight years in the NFL. Not a lot of guys make it to this level and then a lot don’t get past three years. This is my third (NFL) contract and I am still only 28. For most males in sports, the prime of the career is from ages 28 to 32. I am hoping that is so for me.”
He had an impressive high school career in Alcoa, Tennessee, and then was a two-time all-Southeastern Conference pick at UK, including 2010 when he also earned All-American honors. He played in 33 games at Kentucky and had 144 catches for 1,661 yards and 13 touchdowns and ran for 1,313 yards and 22 scores.
Cobb viewed himself as a quarterback coming to college and did start four games at quarterback his freshman season at UK. His sophomore year he played mainly receiver but also returned punts and kicks and held for field goals and extra points. His junior season, Joker Phillips became the new head coach after Rich Brooks retired. Cobb became the first UK player to have a rushing, passing and receiving touchdown in a game since Shane Boyd in 2003 and also tied the school record for career touchdowns with 32.
“Because of my pride, I wanted to be a quarterback and made that known,” Cobb said. “The coaching staff helped me see that I could have a longer NFL career at receiver. I eventually believed them and it has worked out as they said.
“Coach Brooks had a huge impact on my life. I would probably not be where I am at if not for him. He shot me straight and told you how things were going to be. I valued his opinion a lot as an 18 and 19-year-old kid and still do. I am thankful for having him in my life. We still talk. He came up to a game two years ago and he and his wife came to dinner after the game. He was at my wedding back in 2017.”
Cobb, who also stays in touch with former UK assistant coaches Randy Sanders and Tee Martin, says there is no one special memory for him at Kentucky.
“All three years there were special to me,” he said.
Off the field, he’s most proud that he finished his degree in communications and business leadership in 2015 to show the value he put on education, something instilled in him by his parents. He still plans to come back to get his Master’s after his playing career ends.
Cobb didn’t even mind last season when running back Benny Snell, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, broke the single-season touchdown record he shared during the Cats’ 10-3 season.
“Records are cool but they are meant to be broken,” Cobb, who tries to get back to Kentucky for the Derby along with UK football or basketball games when he can, said. “He was a hard runner and big asset to that team. He accomplished a lot of things I was not able to do starting with getting ten wins. It was amazing to see the team they put on the field and the product they have now.
“You always want to look back and see your school having success. Coach (Mark) Stoops has done a great job getting talent and putting a really good product on the field. They had a lot of guys drafted but I think they also have a lot of young talent. I am really proud of what they are doing.”