BamaMag.com will catch up with four-star Alabama commitment David Cornwell each week for an in-depth look at his senior season both on and off the field. The following is the first installment of the "QB Diaries," in which Cornwell goes through what went wrong in his team's season opener and much more.
After slightly injuring his ankle in a preseason scrimmage, Alabama quarterback commitment David Cornwell was held out of action by coach Wade Standley at Norman (Okla.) North High School until the season opener. Though healthy, the No. 5 quarterback prospect in America's senior class and the Timberwolves came up just short in last week's opener, on Thursday, held at the University of Oklahoma.
"Probably our biggest opponent of the whole season is Norman High, you know, the cross-town rivals," Cornwell said. "They're a physical team, a big team, a lot of seniors this year while our team is pretty young. We basically have 10 new players on defense, offense is pretty new as well. We have seniors, but none of us have played together.
"Still, it was a good first game and good experience, we played on OU's field. I wish it was later in the season because the first game is always kind of shaky, that's kind of what you expect though."
Norman North fell just short to Norman, 38-31.
"We did what we could," he said. "It was a tough night for the line, it's not their fault, but they did what they could. We lost and there was nine sacks. It could have easily been 10 or even 15, but we'll get that fixed. We moved some linemen around and moved some from defense, so we're working out the kinks, kind of like Alabama.
"We'll get it fixed. We'll get the right feel before districts when it really matters though for Alabama, it obviously always matters."
Cornwell was pleased with his individual effort in his true debut with the team, though there's always room for improvement.
"I felt good, obviously my stats were a lot better than I thought," he said. "I distributed the ball very well, so it wasn't as bad a I though. A lot of good balls, a lot of good throws on the run. I threw for 233 yards, around 55 percent completion percentage, two touchdowns and one interception on a tipped pass.
"So, average to a good outing but I expect to put up about 300 yards and three touchdowns every night."
Not only is the team and venue new for Cornwell, who battled with the OSSAA for a fifth high school season this summer before committing to the Crimson Tide, but his status as a Nick Saban recruit has caused players and even fans to gun at him a bit more during competition.
"Oh yea, it's crazy," he said. "Every time I get hit, there's a comment. When there's an incomplete pass, there's chants of "overrated." When I make a good play our crowd is chanting "Alabama!" and "Roll Tide!" or something, so the atmosphere is always around you.
"Social media is crazy, but you've got to embrace it. It's going to be like that for the rest of your career. Especially at the next level. If you're any good, they're going to target you. I'm kind of getting used to the targeting."
One thing that surprised him from week 1 was the atmosphere and venue. The SEC experience the four-star already has from his recruitment seems to already be paying dividends with his expectation and poise.
Cornwell was invited to the prestigious "Elite 11" QB camp this summer.
"Probably the biggest thing for Week 1 is OU's field," Cornwell said. "It just didn't seem as big as some other fields. I don't know if it's because I've been in Bryant-Denney, or the Big House at Michigan, both huge stadiums, but this one seemed normal and liked you belonged there. It will help me in the future."
The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder offered a glimpse into Alabama's future with the most anticipated game of the college football season coming up against Texas A&M.
"You're gonna expect a Johnny Manziel shut-down," he said. "If I know Coach Saban well, and I think I do, he's got everyone ready. With two weeks to prepare and the ultimate mastermind in college football, I think they're going to shut him down.
"My prediction from the start was 'Bama by 10 points, I don't know how the offense will do but I know Coach Nussmeier will get under them. 'Bama by at least 10 points."
Cornwell won't be in College Station, but he plans on making it to Tuscaloosa for games against LSU and "probably another one" in addition to an official visit in December.
"Since I'm an early-enrollee, I'll probably just go in December and get all my classes set up and just be ready to go after my vacation," he said.
Another prospect set to graduate in December became a member of Scout's top recruiting class last week in Cameron Robinson. The five-star offensive tackle and No. 2 player in America was a priority not only for Alabama, but for Cornwell.
"He was my big boy, I will not take credit for him at all, it's all 'Bama and it's all the coaches," he said. "But Cam is a person I really care about. I don't try to pry them this way or that way, but I just let them know...I tell them to go with their heart. I had a special feeling with Cam from the start, he's a Louisiana kid so you knew it would be Alabama and LSU.
"At one point, Coach [Billy] Napier told me 'hey, you've got to meet this kid.' It was at a camp, it was me, Cameron Robinson and (four-star defensive tackle) Charles Mosley. We were like the three musketeers, three brothers, and we were hanging out. I was playing catch with Cam, and he was winging it like 40 or 50 yards. He said 'man, I've got to be your receiver for 7-on-7.' Coach Napier was like, 'no chance that you guys are playing Alabama ball (7-on-7 at UA's summer camps).' Yeah, the top two recruits blowing knees or something wouldn't have been good."
The QB may spend as much time with his future blind-side protector during their time at Alabama.
"I've always loved Cam, I've been talking with him this last week and it's really picked up," Cornwell said. "I'm possibly rooming wit him, he's a great kid. We have the same goals, to play early...NFL...all of that so I feel like we can push each other. I'm so happy he chose Alabama."
The lead-recruiter among commitments, especially soon after pledging Crimson himself, the senior signal-caller is ready to move forward with his role as the football season progresses.
"At one time we had a receiver list, and I think we've got most of those guys when (Cameron) Sims committed," he said. "We have (Derek) Kief, too. But I'll check out Coach Napier to see who we need and probably work on them during the season and at games, especially that LSU game."
Cornwell is amped to check out Alabama against Texas A&M on Saturday, but he's on a mission to bring Norman North its initial victory of the fall during Friday night's home opener.
"We play Del City, a 5A team, from an urban area," he said. "They're already talking. I think it's a game we should win, but you never know. They're going to give me their best shot, and their plan is to shut me down.
"We need to run the ball, and I'm completely fine with that, it's whatever it takes to win. We've got to win games over stats, always."