When Randall Cobb decided to leave the University of Kentucky one year early in 2011 for a pro career in the NFL, he promised he would eventually return to earn his degree.
On Sunday, he fulfilled that promise and walked across the stage, becoming the first person in his immediate family to graduate college. And Aaron Rodgers was in attendance at the ceremony, too, cheering his friend’s accomplishment.
Cobb still has two courses to complete for his degree in community and leadership development in Kentucky’s college of agriculture, food and environment. He’s going to finish those classes this summer, officially graduating in August, but the school allowed Cobb to participate in the spring commencement.
Cobb enrolled at Kentucky in 2008 and was the Wildcats’ starting quarterback as a freshman. After three seasons in Lexington, where he became one of the nation’s top wide receivers and set the school’s all-time record for total touchdowns, Cobb decided to turn pro. He was drafted in the second round by the Packers, becoming a Pro Bowler in 2014 and earning a four-year, $40 million contract in March of 2015.
"Yes, I’ve been able to be successful on the field," Cobb said in a school-produced video. "But I want to be successful in as many fields as I can."
Cobb said his favorite class at Kentucky was Leadership Studies. He talked about the importance of "having a high football IQ" and how an educational background "really helps you excel" in the NFL. Cobb said his college graduation was the most important day of his life for his family and he called it a bigger achievement than any success he’s had on the field.
Rodgers, who had been at the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, stuck around the state for a day and was all smiles during the commencement ceremony.
Rodgers left California after his junior year, too, and never actually graduated from college. Along with the Packers and Kentucky, he tweeted out his congratulations.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.