- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 24, 2010

LEXINGTON, KY. (AP) - The competitor in Randall Cobb was evident early.

The Kentucky receiver’s video game battles with his older brother lasted well past Cobb’s bedtime when the siblings were growing up in eastern Tennessee.

Night after night they played John Madden football. Each time Cobb lost _ which was usually _ Cobb would mash the reset button.

“I wouldn’t quit until I beat him,” said the junior wide receiver said. “Some days, it took a loooong time.”

Cobb hates to lose. He is obsessed with it, actually.

“He’s the kind of guy, it doesn’t matter if it’s horseshoes, he’s going to find a way to beat you,” said offensive coordinator Randy Sanders. “If he’s got to throw five ringers to win, he’ll do it.”

It’s a mentality that has paid off well at a school where consistent success has been elusive. That’s slowly changing, and Cobb has been tasked with helping the Wildcats continue their move toward respectability in the tough Southeastern Conference.

“This is his team, period,” said coach Joker Phillips. “This is his football team. He’s the guy that makes us go. He’s the heartbeat.”

Cobb scored 15 touchdowns last season despite being the only reliable offensive threat. Easily the team’s best receiver, he led Kentucky’s otherwise anemic passing offense with 39 catches and four touchdowns.

He was even better lining up in the backfield as part of the “WildCobb” package, scoring 10 times despite little suspense about what would happen when the ball is snapped. Cobb took over 110 snaps out of the WildCobb last year and threw it just 13 times.

All that running, however, took a toll.

Listed generously at 5-feet-11 and 186 pounds, Cobb’s body began to betray him as the touches mounted. He practiced little toward the end of the season, and Cobb found himself a bystander in pressure situations because he was out of gas.

None were more obvious _ or more painful _ than in the season finale against Tennessee. Trailing by a field goal with less than 2 minutes left, Cobb led the Wildcats to the Tennessee 10 with a chance to end Kentucky’s miserable 24-year losing streak to the Volunteers.

Then, he disappeared.

Instead, it was freshman quarterback Morgan Newton who tried to get the final 30 feet to the end zone. It didn’t happen. Kentucky settled for a field goal. Tennessee won in overtime.

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