Homegrown Reggie Cobb, almost a football legend as a Tennessee Volunteer, has died at age 50 of an apparent heart attack. Patton Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
He was one of the best-ever Bobcats for Central High. He ran for 17 touchdowns for Tennessee in 1987. He went over a thousand yards in his best NFL year. He was an outstanding scout for the San Francisco 49ers for the past decade. He lived in Sugarland, Texas.
Cobb, long ago, told the story of not wanting to attend the University of Tennessee. He wanted “to get the heck out of Dodge.”
Ken Donahue, UT assistant coach, prevailed in a recruiting race. Cobb chose the Vols over Georgia and a dozen other offers. His first game, as a redshirt freshman, was against Colorado in the 1987 Kickoff Classic. He gained 138 yards.
Reggie ran for 1,197 yards that season. His 17 TDs as a runner were the second-most ever by a Volunteer. Gene McEver had 18 in 1929.
Cobb was not as good as a sophomore. He failed drug tests and was suspended from the UT team before 1989 spring practice. He did rehab and was reinstated. For half a season, he and Chuck Webb gave the Vols what may have been the best running combo in the country.
Cobb’s best game was the 21-14 victory over Auburn. He gained 225 yards on 22 carries, including a 79-yard touchdown run.
Alas, after another transgression, coach John Majors dismissed Cobb – the week of the Alabama game.
Reggie got some good advice. He entered the John Lucas New Spirit Recovery Treatment Center in Houston and started over.
His summation was unforgettable: “I think the good Lord allows things to happen to us to make us better people. That’s part of what I had to go through.”
Cobb did not attend the NFL combine but he ran a 40-yard dash in a hotel hallway for pro scouts and got drafted in the second round by Tampa Bay. He had four good years with the Bucs and three others elsewhere.
With the help of former Vol Reggie McKenzie, Cobb got a scouting job with the Washington Redskins. He never left the NFL. He went back with Tampa Bay. He joined the 49ers in 2009. In 2011, he was conference scout of the year.
“We are devastated by the sudden loss of a tremendous teammate and loyal friend, Reggie Cobb,” said 49ers general manager John Lynch.
“Reggie was an enthusiastic and passionate person who had a special ability to brighten up a room with his personality and infectious smile. For 10 years, the 49ers were better because of Reggie and these unique qualities that he possessed. He was a top-notch scout and an exemplary man.”
Coach Majors has fond memories of Cobb. He said he is forever thankful Reggie overcame his problems.
“He was a good person when he was at Tennessee. He had a positive personality. He was wonderful to coach. You never had to tell him to hustle.”
Majors said he thought he was a pretty good coach when he had Tony Dorsett at Pittsburgh.
“I found out I was really good when we had Reggie Cobb and Chuck Webb at Tennessee.”