He might not be on scholarship just yet, but the Terps may very well have uncovered a diamond in the rough at a local pipeline. Wide receiver Michael Cornwell starred at McDonogh School (Owings Mills, Md.) in each of the last three seasons, but garnered only one FBS offer (Temple) and a handful of FCS and lower Division I looks from Delaware, Old Dominion, Monmouth, Marist, Rhode Island and Stony Brook.
Instead of becoming a Blue Hen or a Monarch, though (Cornwell said Temple filled up their receiver slots, thus the offer was not committable), this 6-foot-4, 175-pound senior opted to walk-on at nearby Maryland.
“What happened was right at the end of my senior season, right before the championship game, Coach Keith Dudzinski from Maryland sat me down and asked me a ton of questions,” Cornwell said. “He told me to consider all my scholarship offers and take a look at those schools, but he wanted me to know Maryland had a preferred walk-on opportunity for me with a chance to earn a scholarship after I get there. He was saying some things that were just rolling around in my brain and had me really thinking long and hard about what direction I wanted to go in.
“Coach Dud gave me this whole spiel. He was telling me about Maryland’s education, and how I wouldn’t find a better school out there of the schools I was looking at. Then he said scholarship or no scholarship, I’d be given the same opportunity to compete for time, and I’d have a great chance to be a contributor there. And then we talked about representing my home state -- a state I’ve lived in for 14 of my 18 years -- playing in the Big Ten and playing with [former teammates] Josh [Woods], Ellis [McKennie] and where Roman [Braglio] went too. So it was just an amazing opportunity and I decided to take it.”
It was not a decision Cornwell made hastily, however. He let Dudzinski’s comments marinate for a good four months before finally deciding to continue his career in College Park, Md., in April.
“Choosing Maryland was kind of a last-minute decision, but I’m pretty sure it’s a safe one and the right one,” Cornwell said. “After I got the walk-on offer, I actually visited Monmouth, ODU and Delaware. And, really, Delaware was the one that had my eye. I was pretty close to committing there, but in the end I couldn’t say no to Maryland.”
Since committing, Cornwell has been on campus twice, first for freshman orientation and then for UMD’s spring game April 11. He said he toured the school and “simply loved it.”
“I’ve always been up at Maryland, because I only live 35, 40 minutes away and I went up there for games to see my friend Josh [Woods],” Cornwell said. “But the two orientations I went to, that gave me a different kind of look at Maryland, and after that I knew I was at the right place. The players on the team, the coaches and their values, the students on campus, the academics there -- it was all right.
“And just talking to Josh, he was a big part of why I chose to go there too. He told me how Maryland is much more competitive and would push me to the limit to reach my potential. He was saying how Maryland’s academics are great and would bring out the best in me. Hearing that from someone like Josh, who I trust, that meant a lot.”
Naturally, Cornwell is focused on his education. He carried a 3.9 GPA at McDonogh and wants to get into either business marketing or consulting. The Eagles’ product begins classes at UMD June 22, noting how he’s eager to knock out a few courses before the fall.
“I want to contribute academically and athletically at Maryland,” Cornwell said.
As far as his football skills are concerned, Cornwell said he’s a big-bodied receiver who can bring “a lot to the table.” He mentioned that he still has plenty to work on, but “I’m confident in my abilities.”
“Maryland has developed guys like Torrey Smith, Stefon Diggs, Deon Long, so that’s exciting for me, and I feel like as a bigger receiver I can be a good complement to some the smaller speed guys they have their now,” Cornwell said. “And one thing Coach Dudzinski was telling me that was really attractive is that I could play out wide or the ‘Y’ position (tight end). I love that, because some schools like Delaware and ODU actually wanted me at outside linebacker. But Maryland thinks I’m versatile enough where I can bulk up and play tight end or move outside to receiver, which is where my heart is at.”
Cornwell is coming off a senior season where he recorded 37 receptions for 900 yards and eight touchdowns. As a defensive end he racked up 45 tackles and 11 sacks.
“I’ve always been a go-up-and get-it type of receiver comparable to a Vincent Jackson or a Brandon Marshall. In my opinion I have great hands, I’m physical, I don’t get jammed and I run good routes,” Cornwell said. “I have to work on my speed, but I don’t consider that a weakness.
“But I’m going to work hard, do what I was born to do, and make a lot of people proud. I can’t wait to be a Terp.”
Cornwell Seizes Opportunity At UMD
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