The Tampa Bay area heard somber news Saturday afternoon when it was announced that Reginald John Cobb had passed away at the age of 50 of a possible heart attack.
The Knoxville, Tennessee born Cobb starred at Central High School running for 1,141 yards and 13 touchdowns averaging 6.7 yards per carry his senior year. As a member of Central’s track team Reggie would win the state long jump title as well as finished fifth in the 100 meter dash. Both skills that would serve him well the remainder of his football career.
Arriving at the University of Tennessee, this Vol would play sparingly his freshman season, but would completely break out during his sophomore campaign in 1987. With 1,721 all-purpose yards including a team leading 1,197 rushing yards. His 20 touchdowns(17 rushing 3 receiving) was second in the nation and tied an SEC record. In the 1988 Peach Bowl victory over Indiana, Cobb would rush for 146 yards and 2 touchdown including the late go ahead score to win game MVP honors.
Prior to spring practice 1989, Cobb was placed on indefinite suspension due to a 3rd failed drug test. Although the upcoming season would find him locked in a battle with Emmitt Smith for the SEC’s rushing title. Cobb was released from the team prior to an October matchup against Alabama. In January of 1990, Cobb entered the John Lucas New Spirit Recovery Center in Houston Texas. He was occasionally visited by Buccaneer Head Coach Ray Perkins who became one of his advocates.
Tampa Bay took a chance on Reggie Cobb and made him their second round pick in the 1990 draft. His best season would be in 1992 when he registered 4 games of 100+ yards. Finishing the season with 1,171 yards and nine rushing touchdowns.
Buccaneer fans remember a dancing running back that had a spring in his step and softness in his hands. His concentration skills when catching a pass out of the backfield were extraordinary. He was drafted the same year the Buccaneers started a failed experiment with Keith McCants out of Alabama at #1, moving him from a linebacker to a lineman. That same draft would also bring fortune in Tony Mayberry and Ian Beckles, as well as Cobb.
Reggie Cobb would find himself as a scout following his playing career with the assistance of former ex-Vol Reggie McKenzie. Cobb would work for six years as Tampa Bay’s Southwestern regional scout before ending up in 2009 with the San Francisco 49ers. In 2011 he was nominated the NFC scout of the year by the Fritz Pollard Alliance. Cobb was inducted into the greater Knoxville Hall of Fame in 2011.
“We are devastated by the sudden loss tremendous teammate and loyal friend, Reggie Cobb.” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “Reggie was an enthusiastic and passionate person who had a special ability to brighten up a room with his personality and infectious smile. For ten years, the 49ers were better because of these unique qualities that he possessed.
He was a top-notch scout and an exemplary man whose years of service to this organization and the National Football League will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this time of mourning.”
Once again John Lynch, although currently in the capacity of 49ers general manager seemed able to put words the feelings Tampa Bay has as well. Thank you for the memories Reggie Cobb. During a time when memorable Buccaneers moments seemed scarce, you gave Tampa Bay fans some great memories. Hopefully the Buccaneer and 49er organizations will find a way to celebrate your life when the two teams match up at Raymond James on opening day 2019.