COLUMN: Cats have opportunity to replace a legend

The one-man highlight reel decided to leave UK the same way he came into it — with loads of class.

As cliche it may be, Randall Cobb did what anyone would have advised by making the best decision for himself, as tough as it may have been for someone who is team-oriented as Cobb.

Though the hearts of the Big Blue Nation now mourn the loss of not only a beloved player but also a true role model, leader and class act in Cobb, it leaves a position open for someone new.

“One thing that goes with players is that we pass through,” Cobb said. “We pass through the program. There are going to be guys that carry that tradition and keep the program going.”

But he feels prepared for the NFL and, no matter how much UK fans wanted him to stay, the majority knew it was Cobb’s time to move on.

The Southeastern Conference’s third-leading wide receiver and top all-purpose player is expected to hear his name called in the third round of the upcoming NFL draft, according to most analysts.

One concern over Cobb is his draft stock, which likely wouldn’t have improved much had he stayed through next season. While accomplishing nearly everything he could with the Cats, he showcased the majority if not the extent of his football skills, at least the ones he possesses right now.

But Cobb may not necessarily run away with the reputation of being the most valuable player to leave this season if junior linebacker Danny Trevathan decides to do the same. Neither Trevathan nor junior safety Winston Guy, a duo combining for 195.5 tackles in 2010, have declared whether or not they will be returning next season for their final year.

In fact, Trevathan, who tallied double digit tackles in nearly every game this season, may have had an even bigger impact on the defense than Cobb had on the offensive side of the ball. His 114.5 take downs, including 16 tackles for loss, accounted for an astonishing 20 percent of UK’s total tackles this season.

Nonetheless, it is Cobb’s versatility that made him so valuable. His ability to spread the defense with the run, or “WildCobb,” as it so cleverly came to be known, just capped off the threat he provided through the air, both passing and receiving. His explosiveness from wherever he lined up on the field undoubtedly put some amount of fear into the minds of the defensive backs he matched up with.

However, Even Cobb is uncertain of how his talents will be used in the pros but he compared himself to the likes of Wes Welker in that he could fill the slot as well as return some kicks or punts.

Rebounding from the loss of key role players in Cobb, running back Derrick Locke and quarterback Mike Hartline (potentially along with Trevathan and Guy) will be the definition of UK’s upcoming season(s).

Said UK basketball head coach John Calipari, someone who knows a few things about replacing star players, on Cobb’s decision: “You say there is misery but now there is opportunity. Who are the next guys? … We need other guys to step up.”