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
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
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
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
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