Throwback Thursday: Jon Cornish
Dec. 29, 2011
Jon Cornish (Football) 2002-06
Cornish has the rare distinction of winning a bowl game with KU and then going on to win a championship professionally. The running back was on the 2005 Fort Worth Bowl team that defeated Houston in 2005 and the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL, who won the 2008 Grey Cup. Cornish can also claim another unique title; KU’s single season leading rusher. In 2006, the British Columbia native ran for 1,457 total yards.
You are from British Columbia, so what made you decide to come to KU and play football for the Jayhawks?
“I grew up watching Big 12 football and that made me think that I could play because it was the best football conference that I saw. This was about 1995, when Nebraska was really good and there were some other pretty good teams in the Big 12 as well. I did not watch that much NFL or CFL ball, but I watched college ball, so this is what attracted me. After I heard that they (KU) had a new coach (in 2002), I sent my tape down and they ended up liking my tape, so they offered me (a scholarship). I did have some offers from some Pac-10 schools as well as some smaller schools, but having the opportunity to play in the Big 12 was something I could not pass up.”
Your junior season, Kansas made it to the Fort Worth Bowl and defeated Houston, how gratifying was it to finally win a bowl game in your second appearance?
“It was pretty great, because the year before we had played in the Tangerine Bowl and ended up losing to Phillip Rivers (and NC State). But beating Houston in the Fort Worth Bowl ended up being a great experience for a bunch of different reasons. It was just fun to be on that was able to all come together and defeat an opponent that was pretty good.”
Your senior year you rushed for 1,457, which is still an all-time record at KU for rushing yards in a season, what does it mean to have your name atop that list above all those who have had stellar seasons here?
“It is a pretty big deal for me and I still come across people who will mention that. It means something to me because I think we definitely had a great team that year (2006) and it was hard for me to not go to a bowl game. Being able to at least take that away from it was pretty nice.”
Before your senior year (Jan. 2006), you were drafted by the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL. Was playing Canadian football your ultimate goal or did you want to try to play in the NFL?
“I really intended to play in the CFL at some point in my career, whether it was immediately or not.I was drafted in ’06 just after the Fort Worth Bowl, so I was of course going to stay for my senior year and get my degree, but after I was officially done with all that, then I could join the CFL. I did not even talk to coaches for the entire time that I was drafted, until I was finished with my senior year.”
For those who don’t know, besides the three downs and the goal posts closer to the goal lines, how does the CFL differ from the NFL?
“It is a bigger field, so you need an extra guy for the additional area. We have 12 versus 12 on a 65 x 110 yard field. Because of that our special teams end up being a bigger part of the game. Also the CFL emphasizes speed over size because NFL guys tend to be big and fast, while in the CFL, they will just take fast guys more often than not.”
What is the coldest game you have played in since coming into the league?
“Last year in the Western Final (versus Saskatchewan), we played in -45 Celsius (-49 F) weather, with the wind chill, so it was very, very cold.”
Calgary won the Grey Cup Championship in 2008, how was that experience for you as a native Canadian?
“Winning the Grey Cup is probably the best experience I have ever had because there is nothing quite like it. For six months, until the next season, you are treated like a king. I actually had the Grey Cup for a day and I took it around town and some people had emotional reactions to seeing it. That’s because the Grey Cup is a huge part of Canadian history and everyone knows what it is.”
How often you travel back to Lawrence to visit your old stomping grounds?
“I come back roughly once a year, not as much as I would like, but a lot of my friends have actually stayed down there.”
What would you like to do once you are finished playing football professionally?
“Probably either go into law or work for an oil and gas company in their environmental or alternative energy office. The plan though is to try to go to law school because if you don’t like the laws, you might as well try and change them yourself.”
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