When he's healthy, Travis Cobb is one of the fastest players on an Arizona Wildcats roster packed with speedsters.
When he's not, well …
"I'm just slow," he said. "As of now, I'm probably the slowest guy on the team."
Cobb has been battling a right hip flexor injury for the last week. The strain has left the Wildcats senior slowed - and down - heading into a critical part of preseason training. The Wildcats will hold their annual Meet the Team night Saturday at Arizona Stadium, then begin preparing in earnest for their Sept.3 opener at Toledo.
Cobb, 23, said he hopes to be healthy for the season opener; if so, he could be a big part of a UA offense desperate for a deep threat.
Cobb and wide receiver David Douglas have been splitting time at the "Z" receiver position, the spot vacated following Delashaun Dean's arrest and Dexter Ransom's decision to attend Utah.
Douglas is easily the more polished and accomplished of the two, in fact, Cobb caught just one pass for 15 yards in 2009, his first season with the UA following a stellar career at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas.
The Rocky Mount, N.C., native was more at home on special teams.
Cobb racked up a school-record 762 kickoff return yards on 30 returns, topping a mark set by Chuck Levy in 1991. Cobb's 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Washington State was the UA's first since Chris McAlister took one back for a score against Hawaii in the 1998 season opener.
Still, Cobb said the return "confidence-wise, didn't do much" for him a year ago.
"I wanted to play more receiver. I wanted to do more last year," he said.
This year, he'll get the chance. Dean was kicked off the team earlier this summer after being arrested for possession of a concealed weapon; he has since enrolled at Texas A&M-Kingsville. Ransom, another Blinn College product, figured to take Dean's place. But academic issues and a scholarship crunch forced Ransom to enroll at Utah instead.
Cobb said he's ready for the challenge. His coaches agree.
"He's come a long way since a year ago," outside receivers coach David Nichol said. "He's a lot more trustworthy now, and we have a lot more confidence putting him in. To get ridiculously comfortable in our system, it takes about a year and a half. He's almost completely there right now."
The final hurdle - playing hurt - will take some time.
Cobb has been receiving daily treatment to help his hip, and has begun a stretching routine at home. Though he hopes to be 100 percent in the next few weeks, he'll have to contribute even if he isn't.
Cobb calls it "a rough deal."
"Even though I can't really run, I have to help the team out, somewhere. … It used to be so easy just to run past you. Now, it more like I'm fighting off (defenders) on every play. It's hard, but I have to step up."
On StarNet: Follow the Cats as they prepare for the 2010 season on reporter Ryan Finley's blog at go.azstarnet.com/finley
TRAINING CAMP INSIDER
Day 14 at Rincon Vista
• Highlights: The Arizona Wildcats took it easy on their third-to-last full practice of training camp. As a result, many of the UA's down-the-depth-chart players saw significant playing time. But the regulars did have their say at times. Linebacker Jake Fischer and defensive end Brooks Reed had sacks during 11-on-11, and defensive tackle Willie Mobley had a tackle for loss. Offensively, quarterback Nick Foles continues to develop a good rapport with his freshman teammates. He hit receiver Tyler Slavin for two TDs and Austin Hill for one score. Converted quarterback Richard Morrison made a nice catch in traffic. The play of the day belonged to C.J. Parish, a linebacker who switched to fullback during team drills. Parish plowed a linebacker on his first play, receiving howls from his new offensive teammates.
• Weather: 99 and sticky
• Injury report: Offensive tackle Mickey Baucus (ankle sprain), wide receiver Juron Criner (concussion), fullback Taimi Tutogi (sprained ankle) and guard Vaughn Dotsy (back surgery) are out with injuries.
• He said it: "We're starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The kids are playing hard. They're a little dead-legged, but that'll come back." - coach Mike Stoops
• What: Meet the Team night, Arizona Stadium
• When: Saturday, 6 p.m. (gates open at 5 p.m.)
• Admission: Free