With a Wednesday announcement approaching fast, Jashon Cornell is pretty sure where he'll be playing his college football. The decision is not final, however.
"Right now, I'd say I'm 90 percent sure I know where I'm going to go," the four-star defensive end said Monday afternoon. "I'm going back and forth thinking about the coaching staffs, how I feel about them and the academics. With me and my family, the academics come first. If you don't have an education, then you're not going to be anything. I know the NFL is not for long. I need to get a great education."
Sunday, the Saint Paul (MN) Cretin Derham Hall High standout announced on twitter that his five finalists were (in alphabetical order) Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State. Scout.com's No. 11-ranked D-End nationally in 2015 eliminated, among others, prominent programs like Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma and USC.
ESPN.com will air Cornell's verbal commitment at 9 a.m. C.T. Wednesday around the same time as four-star Ohio linebacker Justin Hilliard goes public on the site with his choice. They've talked publicly about teaming up in college for quite some time.
"I think that most likely we're going to go to the same school together," the 6-foot-3 1/2, 245-pound Cornell said. "We just have a great bond. We've grown excited about playing on the same side of the defense in college."
Cornell and Hilliard first met on an unofficial visit to Iowa when they were sophomores. C.J. Hilliard, Justin's older brother, also was on that trip and eventually signed with the Hawkeyes as a member of their '14 recruiting class.
"When we took that visit to Iowa, we met each other and hit it off," Cornell said of he and Justin Hilliard. "Ever since then, we've just continued to talk about playing together."
Cornell announced earlier this summer that he would be committing in August but moved things up this weekend to share the day with his friend.
"I talked with my parents and my uncles and my coaches and it seemed just like now was the time. Justin was committing. We talked about making something great happen at the school that we'd be attending," Cornell said.
Beyond academics, Cornell focused on his relationship with coaches in determining his Final Five. He said he's formed a great connection with all of the staffs. He spoke with Scout.com about each of them (in alphabetical order):
IOWA - "The graduate assistant at Iowa this year will be (former Hawkeye DE) Broderick Binns, who taught at my school (Cretin Derham Hall). He's my coach, my mentor, the person that trained me. That's the one thing I love about Iowa. They've got Broderick Binns down there now. He's a coach that I love and I know I can trust him.
"Friday, we went to breakfast together and we just talked about the whole college thing, like what's going to happen after I get (to college) and how everything works. We talked about what I need to do this upcoming season because he's not going to be here. We talked about the whole recruiting process and the coaches. We went over the pros and cons of each school. He's not pressuring me to go to Iowa or anything. He's trying to help me make the best decision for me."
MICHIGAN STATE - "At Michigan State, there's Coach (Curtis) Blackwell, Coach (Ron) Burton and Coach (Brad) Salem. I have a great relationship with them. They're really great people who care about you as a player and a person. I'm real comfortable at Michigan State."
NOTRE DAME - "Then there's Notre Dame where Coach (Brian) Kelly, the head coach that recruits me, sends players to the NFL. There are a lot of players from my school that played there and became great players. A lot of them went on to the NFL."
OHIO STATE - "Ohio State with Coach Larry Johnson and Coach Urban Meyer, who I have a great relationship with, they're both great coaches and they have a long resume of players they send to the NFL."
PENN STATE: "At Penn State, there's Coach (Sean) Spencer and Coach (James) Franklin, they have an SEC staff in the Big Ten. That's crazy. The SEC is the best conference in college football and having that staff up there is crazy. They're going to make them great this year. Coach Spencer, his little cousin, D.J. Smith, goes to my school and I hang out with him a lot and his dad. His dad is my reverend. I'm talking to him all the time and he's always in my ear about Penn State."
Cornell was schedule to visit State College this weekend but couldn't make it. He wanted to keep his promise to see Penn State so he will do it on July 15. He said he might travel to Michigan State around that same time.
"That will be it forever. After that, my last visit will be my official visit to the college I commit to," he said.