DAY THREE: Gators Expect Big Things From Cornelius

With the University of Florida starting fall practice this week for the 2005 season, all eyes are on Coach Urban Meyer's spread offense. This marvelous hybrid of passing, running and option helped to turn also-rans Bowling Green and Utah into offensive juggernauts.

It's the kind of offense where a wide receiver with multiple talents can flourish. It's an offense that seems to suit Jemalle Cornelius perfectly.

Cornelius is one of the most versatile of the Gator receivers. He is intelligent and athletic. Quick and explosive out of the blocks, he is one of the fastest players on the team. Because he can do so many things he might be the first backup at each of the four wide receiver positions. After a couple of days of practice, he thinks the Florida wide receiver corps is just beginning to hit its stride.

"We have the offense down pretty good," Cornelius said. "We feel a lot more comfortable but still have a lot of work to do."

The last couple of days, wide receiver Coach Billy Gonzalez has been all over his receivers for anything they are doing wrong in practice but that's not a bad thing. He knows the potential of this group so he's making sure they learn to play the positions mistake-free.


Jemalle Cornelius covered by Tremaine McCollum at practice

"That is what it is all about," Cornelius said. "He [Gonzalez] doesn't take any breaks. You can miss one little thing and he will let you know about it. They want everything down to a ‘T' … they are looking for perfection."

His smarts and physical abilities will get him on the field in any number of ways. It means that he can be the go-to guy on any offensive play. He likes the challenge of playing all four wide receiver slots.

"I am learning every position right now so I can do whatever they need," he said.

He's been asked to help teach the younger receivers the ropes and instead of letting his ego get in the way, Cornelius has taken to the challenge of being a mentor for the three young guys (Nyan Boateng, David Nelson and Louis Murphy) that were signed back in February. This is his fourth fall in Gainesville so this is a team player all the way.

"I am impressed with all three of them," he said. "Boateng is stepping up and standing out more than the other two. All three are pretty good athletes, but I think Boateng will do a lot for us this year. All of them have been coming to us … they are eager to learn, so that is a good thing. I know I needed guys to help me, so I know how they are feeling. When I was a young guy I had to ask Carlos (Perez), Kelvin (Kight), and Taylor (Jacobs). I am willing to give back to these guys, since I was just there a couple of years ago."

After three seasons in Gainesville when the Gators failed to meet expectations, Cornelius is looking for improvement this fall. He expects the team to get better and he has high expectations for his own contributions to the team. He knows that the hard practices in the hot Gainesville sun can only make the team better when September arrives.

"I think we are going to have a real good season," he said. "We are doing the hard part right now. I think compared to these practices and all the work we have been doing, the games will be pretty easy to us. We are looking for it. This is way tougher than any game I have been involved with, so it will definitely make the games easier for us."

We talk about it in recruiting and the type of character and ability guys that the staff is recruiting. Jemalle Cornelius is one of those guys. He will never do the wrong thing in representing the University of Florida, and he has the skills to be a first round pick. I think most closely associated with the program are expecting big things from Cornelius this season.


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