Torry Cornett Comes To Eat Every Day

Spring practice is a chance for coaches to experiment and for players to impress. Torry Cornett is looking and sounding impressive at middle linebacker. "This is a game where the men come to eat, and I come to eat every day."

The new Bearcat coaching staff is taking time in the spring to see who best fits into their system.  With All-Big East middle linebacker Kevin McCullough graduating, a few players are hoping to grab the early lead as his replacement.  One of the contenders is an ex-college basketball point guard named Torry Cornett.  Bearcat football fans may not be too familiar with Cornett, but he's actually been with the program for two years after transferring from Prairie View A & M where he started ten games and averaged 6 points a contest.


This "mike" linebacker spoke with Bearcat Insider a day after being elevated to #1 on the depth chart and explained his return to the gridiron.  "When I came out of high school, I wanted to play basketball, but football is where my heart is and where I feel I'll be most productive.  I had a great experience down at Prairie View, and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but I've gotten in the weight room with Coach Swanger and now Coach Longo, and I'm getting my body back."  That body made Cornett an all-state performer in both football and basketball at Independence High School in Columbus.  Torry is one of three Bearcats from Independence with the others being DeAngelo Smith and Jacob Ramsey.


As a starting point guard, Torry looked a little different.  "I was about 197 pounds when I played basketball so I've had to change my body and my focus."  The Columbus native didn't choose to transfer to Cincinnati on a whim.  "I was recruited by Coach Dantonio and Coach Hinton out of high school, and I've always had a place in my heart for Cincinnati.  I knew I'd end up here."  Due to transfer rules, Torry had to sit out the 2005 season but managed to play on a number of special teams and in special situations last year.  "I played kickoff, kickoff return and on the punt block team.  I also played on the goal line (defense) all last year."  The 6' 2"/236 pounder is very similar to McCullough in a number of ways.  McCullough came to the Bearcats as a walk-on, so did Cornett.  Kevin was listed at 6' 2" and 240 pounds only 4 pounds heavier than Torry, and both are big hitters.  Some UC football fans may remember the devastating hit Cornett delivered on a kickoff return during the opener against Eastern Kentucky last year.  Torry loves the comparisons to McCullough.  "Kevin McCullough is a hard worker, and I would love to be compared to him."


As Torry goes into his junior season next year, he's hoping all the work pays off in his earning more playing time, but he also credits some teammates for his improvement as he auditions with the #1 defensive unit this week.  "It's been hard work and preparation of learning the playbook and taking care of my body.  Andre Revels also helped me step up my game along with Nick DeFilippo.  I knew I had to mind my p's and q's every day.  It's been a humbling experience, and as long as I stay healthy and do the right things, I think I can help our defense be great this year."


As mentioned earlier, coaches use spring as a time for experimentation, and UC linebacker coach, Tim Hinton, knows the competition for the starting middle linebacker job is far from over.  "We wanted to get some different looks, and we may have a different combination next week.  What we're really trying to do is experiment with our new backer scheme.  Pat Narduzzi ran an ‘over' scheme, and we're based on an ‘under' scheme.  We have to find out who can play what positions.  Unless you put them in different positions, you're never quite sure how they fit into what you're trying to do.  Next week I may have a different combination of guys.  What I'm trying to do is get an idea in the first 3 weeks about who they are, and in the last week put them in the position they'll play in the fall."


Cornett came to the Bearcats as a walk-on, but last year he and a couple teammates had their hard work rewarded by receiving a scholarship.  "Before Coach Dantonio left last year, he awarded Evan Sparks, Nick DeFilippo and me a scholarship right before the S. Florida game, and I've been on scholarship since then."  The quality of walk-ons at Cincinnati have been a strength, and Torry sees it at his position.  "I couldn't believe players like Obidiah Cheatham, Collin McCafferty and Jason Kelce weren't on scholarship."


When asked to identify what strengths he brings to his position, Torry replied.  "I think I'm a speed guy.  I came out of high school running a low 4.5 forty.  I'm trying to get it back down there, and I feel I can cover and plug holes."  Torry has caught my eye over the years by making big hits.  "I've been a big hitter ever since little league back in Columbus playing for the Southeast Bulldogs and Eastland Vikings.  You have to stick your head in there.  This is a game where the men come to eat, and I come to eat every day."


Adjusting to a new defense and new coordinator hasn't been a problem for Torry.  "It's different, but to play defense, you have to have a demeanor.  Coach Kelly always talks about carrying yourself with a certain demeanor, and Coach Tresey is instilling that demeanor in our defense."


Torry could wind up being the surprise of the spring, especially after looking at the success of some of his relatives on the gridiron.  His Uncle Ken (Lanier) played at Florida State and later with the Denver Broncos, and his cousin Roger Harper played at Ohio State and the Atlanta Falcons.  Torry will have to cut his own path in football, but one thing is pretty certain.  This is a game where the men come to eat, and Torry Cornett comes to eat every day.


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