This getting into school early thing appears to be working out just fine for Arkansas true freshman wide receiver Jared Cornelius.
Cornelius graduated from Shreveport, La., Evangel early and was in classes at Arkansas in January.
He had his coming out party in front of the fans last Saturday while catching 4 passes for 60 yards in the Razorbacks' scrimmage.
"I loved the atmosphere," Cornelius said. "It was actually my first time being on the game field because I didn't take an official here. It was amazing to be in front of the fans and the turnout was amazing."
Cornelius caught 71 passes for 1,189 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior after a junior year in which he hauled in 90 passes for 1,585 yards and 18 scores.
He was a young man that Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema knew could play right away.
"I thought Jared Cornelius made some exceptional catches," Bielema said after the scrimmage. "What you saw today, is what we have been seeing all spring. He is very gifted, very athletic. He is a game-changer and I think an exceptional player."
Cornelius is learning as much as he can this spring with an intent of making as big a splash as possible in Arkansas' season opener at Auburn on August 30.
"I feel like I did okay as far as being in a new offense," Cornelius said. "It's kind of hard jumping into an offense and getting comfortable, but I was pretty comfortable and pretty relaxed.
"I dropped one ball," Cornelius added. "I have a lot more work to do, but I am looking forward to it."
Cornelius committed to Arkansas back last summer, but took a sudden recruiting trip to TCU in December without knowledge of the Razorback staff and committed to the Horned Frogs a day before he was supposed to be in Fayetteville.
Cornelius – who had expressed fears of Arkansas not throwing the ball enough at that point – quickly changed his mind and was back with the Razorbacks in quick order.
"I feel like this year that we have some receivers that really can be some game-changers and play-makers in (Demetrius) Wilson and Keon (Hatcher) and Drew (Morgan) and me," Cornelius said. "Just some of the guys that are coming in this class. I really think this year is going to be different as far as receivers and as far as this offense."
Arkansas wide receivers coach Michael Smith does not try to hide the fact that he expects Cornelius and junior college transfer Cody Hollister to be big parts of game one.
"Unless the Good Lord takes them away from me, they are both going to play in that first game and play a lot," Smith said. "…I have been really impressed with how they are picking things up in this offense. Those two kids have really just come in and attacked it and have done a good job doing it."
Razorback quarterback Brandon Allen likes what he sees out of Cornelius and Hollister.
"I thought they did a pretty good job (Saturday)," Allen said. "I know from what I have seen in practice, some of the things they can both can do.
"I see Cody go up and make plays, I see Cornelius make people miss and get open," Allen added. "They both have their style and they definitely bring some ability that can help us."
One thing that Cornelius might also take on is punt returns – something he has worked on this spring.
"I returned punts at my high school and I have always wanted to do it (in college)," Cornelius said. "I am happy I am going to get a chance to do it here."
Cornelius Is In Charge
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