Randall Ladonald Cobb II was born August 22, 1990 in Maryville, Tennessee. From a young age, it seemed that football was Cobb’s destiny. One of his cousins, Shannon Mitchell, played tight end at Georgia and for the San Diego Chargers from 1994-97, while another cousin, Billy Williams, played wide receiver at Tennessee and was a seventh-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 1995. Football was in his blood, and Randall would travel down a similar path that his cousins took, only reaching levels neither of them ever did.
Success on the field came as soon as Cobb started playing. While at Alcoa High School, he was part of four consecutive state championship-winning teams. He served as the team’s quarterback his junior and senior years, earning all-state recognition during these two seasons. Cobb would also be named “Mr. Football” for Class AA in Tennessee as a senior. It was not just football that Cobb excelled in while in high school. He was also part of the school’s track team all four years, with his relay team finishing second in state as a junior, and third in state as a senior. Cobb also played on the school’s basketball team, earning all district honors as a junior. Most importantly, Cobb excelled in the classroom, as an honor-roll student, and was named to Who’s Who Among American High School Students.
Cobb was on his way to success-the University of Kentucky would be his next stop.
To say Cobb made an impact on the field while at the University of Kentucky would be a gross understatement. His impact was incredible. During his time there, he played in 36 games with 33 starts, catching 144 passes for 1,661 yards and 13 touchdowns. Cobb also excelled rushing the ball, gaining 1,313 yards and 22 TDs on 228 carries. But his versatility did not end there. He completed 62 of 122 passes for 689 yards and five TDs with five INTs as the team’s QB, and averaged 9.8 yards on 63 punt returns with two TDs and posted a 24.6-yard average on 44 career kickoff returns just for good measure. As a senior, Cobb would set the SEC single-season record for all-purpose yards with 2,396 in 2010, part of the reason why he was named a first-team All-America selection by The Associated Press, ESPN.com and SportsIllustrated.com at Kentucky. Cobb’s stat sheet at Kentucky reads more like a list of achievements than actual statistics. He had proven his ability in both high school and college, and much like his cousins had done before him, the NFL was Cobb’s next stop.
Despite his all around success during college, Cobb would have to wait until the end of the second round to be selected in the 2011 NFL Draft. When his name was still on the board, Packers GM Ted Thompson wasted no time in selecting him, and adding Cobb to an already dangerous Packers offense. Cobb made his presence known to the rest of the league the very first game of his career, with a 108 yard kickoff return during Week 1 of the 2011 season. Cobb had arrived, and was not going to slow down.
Despite being in the league a mere three seasons, and being healthy for only 2 1/2 of them, his NFL highlights are the stuff legends are made of:
- Set a franchise single-season record with a league-high 2,342 combined net yards in 2012, topping the previous team mark of 2,250 yards by RB Ahman Green in 2003.
- Became the first Packer to lead the league in combined net yards since Travis Williams did so in 1969 with 1,517 yards.
- With 954 receiving yards and 964 kickoff return yards in 2012, he became the first player in NFL history to post 900-plus yards in each category in the same season.
- Was named a first alternate for the Pro Bowl at kick returner in 2012. Averaged 25.4 yards on 38 kickoff returns and 9.4 yards on 31 punt returns.
- Led the team in receptions (80) and receiving yards (954) in 2012 despite missing the season finale due to injury.
- Has three kick return scores (two punts, one kickoff) in 30 career regular-season games, which ties him for No. 2 in franchise history behind only Williams (six TDs).
- Is tied for No. 3 in the league with the three kick return scores since 2011.
- Ranked No. 2 in the NFL in kickoff return average (27.7) and No. 7 in the league in punt return average (11.3) in 2011. Checked in at No. 1 and No. 2 in those respective categories among rookies on his way to earning All-Rookie honors from Pro Football Weekly/PFWA as a kickoff returner.
- Was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate as a kick returner in 2011.
- His 27.7-yard kickoff return average ranked No. 3 in franchise history (min. 25 returns) behind only Dave Hampton (28.6 in 1971) and Al Carmichael (28.1 in 1956).
- Tied an NFL record with a 108-yard kickoff return for a TD against New Orleans in his pro debut, a play that would go on to be named the ‘NFL Play of the Year’ at the league’s awards ceremony.
- Became just the second player in NFL history to catch a TD pass and score on a kickoff return in his pro debut, joining Detroit’s Bill Bowman (vs. Chicago, Sept. 26, 1954).
- Set a franchise rookie record with 941 kickoff return yards, besting the previous mark held by Charles Wilson (798 yards in 1990).
- With his 108-yard kickoff return for a score vs. New Orleans in Week 1 and his 80-yard punt return TD vs. Minnesota in Week 10, became the first player in team history and the first NFL rookie since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to register a 100-yard kickoff return and an 80-yard punt return in the same season.
- Became the first Green Bay rookie to register a punt return for a TD and a kickoff return for a score in the same season and the first Packer since Roell Preston did so in 1998.
- One of only three players in franchise history to register a receiving TD, a punt return for a TD and a kickoff return for a score in the same season, joining Travis Williams (1969) and Robert Brooks (1994).
- Set a franchise rookie record with 1,616 combined yards (375 receiving, 5 rushing, 941 kickoff return, 295 punt return), topping the previous mark held by Billy Howton (1,231 in 1952).
- Tied for No. 3 in the NFL in 2011 in total kick return TDs with two, trailing only Arizona’s Patrick Peterson (four) and Chicago’s Devin Hester (three).
Cobb was also on the receiving end of one of the most memorable touchdowns in Packers history, one which captured the 2013 NFC North title for the Packers:
When Cobb is not busy catching division clinching touchdowns, he is active in his hometown community. e has started a “Blessings in a Backpack” program at Alcoa (Tenn.) Elementary, which gives children that are on free or reduced lunch a backpack full of food for the weekend. Cobb has also Attended the annual holiday party for Families of Children with Cancer, as well as been a member of the 2013 Packers Tailgate Tour.
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John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio. ---------------------
He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.