As Packers WR Randall Cobb finished crossing the stage at the University of Kentucky’s commencement on Sunday, it wasn’t difficult for him to spot his family in the crowd.
“They were sitting right by the stage, a little up,” Cobb said. “To be able to walk across and look up at them and see how excited they were, it was a special moment.”
Cobb is the first person in his immediate family to graduate from college. He still has two classes left to take this summer, but he went through commencement on Sunday after finishing three classes this spring — his ninth, 10th and 11th since leaving school early back in 2011 to join the Packers as a second-round draft pick.
Cobb remained diligent in his pursuit of a degree in community communications and leadership development. He took two summer classes prior to his rookie year while NFL players were being locked out by the owners in a labor dispute. After his second pro season, he went back to the Lexington campus to take three classes, and he has taken three more classes each of the past two offseasons.
Though he told his mom and grandmother he would finish college, it was a promise he made to himself more than anything. He spoke of it in terms of “changing the course” for his family, hopefully for generations to come.
“It wasn’t like anybody was pushing me to do it. It was something more that I wanted to do,” Cobb said on Monday, speaking with Packers.com after his regular workout. He flew back from Kentucky on Sunday night.
“I value education. It opens your mind up to different things. I just want to be able to set an example, not only for my kids, whenever I have them, but other little kids looking up. Yes, I play professional football, and I’ve been able to make a lot of money, but more importantly, I’ve been able to continue to grow and expand my mind and think differently.”
It was an emotional weekend. Cobb got to re-connect with his academic advisor, who began helping him as a freshman back in 2008, and some tears were shed. Family members cried some, too. Cobb also was able to speak briefly with university president Eli Capilouto during the ceremony, and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was in attendance to support his teammate as well.
“Everybody views him as the quarterback, but that’s actually one of my closest friends,” Cobb said. “Over the past couple of years, we’ve been able to grow a really good friendship, and I think it was Aaron Rodgers my friend that was there, not the quarterback. It shows just how close a friendship we have.”