LEXINGTON — One of the more intriguing freshmen players at Kentucky is quarterback Theltus “Bookie” Cobbins, who was the nation’s 26th-ranked dual-threat quarterback last season.
The New Orleans native accounted for 10 rushing and passing touchdowns in only four games before being injured. He threw for 1,308 yards and 13 touchdowns and ran for 266 yards and seven scores in 2009.
He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds, has a 315-pound bench press and a 38-inch vertical jump. He’s made it clear he wants to play quarterback, but speculation has been that he could be moved to a different position to take advantage of his athleticism.
Here’s what Cobbins had to say Friday at Kentucky’s media day:
Question: What lies ahead for you now that you are ready to begin your first season at Kentucky?
Cobbins: “Right now I¿see that you have to really work hard in college, and that’s what I¿am doing — working hard learning the playbook, studying, doing all the things to get me better. I¿am following Morgan (Newton) because he’s the starter. I just follow whatever Morgan does. Just trying to get better.”
Question: How hard is it to deal with all the speculation that you will be redshirted when you believe you can compete for playing time this year?
Cobbins: “It is hard to not pay attention to what people say. Sometimes people say they are going to move your position and all that. I try not to let it get to me, but sometimes it does get to me. I just tune it out and work hard at quarterback and do what I¿have to do to get better.”
Question: How do you feel about other players in your recruiting class who have been on campus with you?
Cobbins: “They are great. Marcus Caffey was the number two (player) in Georgia. Josh Clemons ran a 4.3 (40-yard dash). He’s a big back and can run.¿I ran a 4.4. (Receiver) DeMarco Robinson ran a 4.4. Most of the freshmen ran 4.4.
“Daryl Collins is going to be like a Randall (Cobb). I remember one time they threw a pass deep on a fade and two people were on him, and he split them and came up with it. It was amazing. When I¿have receivers like that, it just makes my job easier.”
Question: Are you learning from Newton?
Cobbins: “Yes. Me and Morgan are rooming right now, and being roommates, he goes over stuff with me and studies with me. I am just trying to learn all I¿can.
“It’s all mental. I thought it would be physical, but there is a lot to learn. The playbook is big, and I¿have to get it mentally first. (Assistant coach) Tee Martin told me it was 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, so I am trying to get the mental part right now.”
Question: Do you think that perhaps most UK¿fans underestimate your overall talent?
Cobbins: “Sometimes I¿think like that, but they will find out soon. When my chances come and I¿get out there, everybody will find out then.”
Question: Do you just have a natural personality to be a team leader?
Cobbins: “When I was in high school, my junior year everybody was doing the same thing I did and recognized me as a leader. So if I¿messed up, the next thing you knew the team was doing bad. If I was doing good, everybody else was going good. Whatever I did, they followed me. I’m just a leader like that.”
Question: Can you be a team leader even if you are redshirted this season?
Cobbins: “I could be. It’s not easy, but I¿know I could do it. My mind says I¿could do it, and whatever your mind says you can do, you can do it.”
Question: How much are you looking forward to the first practices in pads and the chance you can showcase your talent?
Cobbins: “I think if they put me on the field, it is going to be a nice time. I can’t worry about that yet, though.”
Question: Do you think you might become a fan favorite because of your smile and personality?
Cobbins: “They follow me on Twitter. I entertain them on Twitter, so I¿have a lot of fans there. They are ready to see me play now, and I¿hope I do become a player they all like and want to see and be around.”