Last Stand

Ole Miss senior Middle Linebacker Jonathan Cornell comes to the end of a successful career this Saturday when the Rebels face Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. Read about it inside.

Rebel Middle Linebacker Jonathan Cornell has experienced the highs, the lows and the in-between of college football.

The California native, who is one of this year's permanent team captains, has endured losing and celebrated winning, but through it all, he never changed his demeanor.

Jonathan Cornell

"In life, you just roll with the punches," said Cornell, shrugging. "All you can do is your best. Sometimes it's good enough, sometimes it isn't. You have to be able to deal with either. You have to be able to stay focused regardless. In the long run, you will come out on top for having learned how to keep your wits in good times and bad."

It comes as no surprise that Jonathan is that way. After all, here's a young man who had good offers close to home and signed with a program that was losing to "be a part of building something" and doing it in an unfamiliar culture, the South.

"It was a difficult adjustment coming here, but you realize people are people. There are different nuances in the South, but it's not that big a deal," Cornell said. "The history of this school and some of the stuff that has happened over time was something I was aware of, but you just have to get what you can out of every situation and see for yourself what it's all about. I have loved my time here.

"From a football standpoint, this league is more physical than any league in the country, but I like that."

Coming off two winning seasons, Cornell and the rest of the returning Rebels felt this would be another successful season, but it hasn't panned out that way.

There's one more chance to put some salve on their wounds, however, in this week's Egg Bowl game.

"We have to find a way to go out there and win it," he continued. "I will do what I always do - the best I can to help us win with my play and with how I help others play their best. I have tried to lead by example. This will be a special game for me - my last one - and I want to remember the guys I went to battle with, the guys I have bonded with."

The Rebs will be facing a Bulldog team that has a winning record guaranteed and a group that used a second-half strategy of option football to slice the Rebs up last year.

Jonathan Cornell

"It was hard for us to adjust last year because we practiced all week for one thing and then saw another. We always have in-game adjustments, but not to that extent. They threw us a curveball and we couldn't hit it," he explained. "It was very frustrating because we just couldn't get it right.

"That game has stuck with us. It's always in the back of our minds."

The Rebs have not been good on defense this year for the most part, but Cornell is optimistic there is still time to resolve some issues.

"We can fix what's been wrong. We've been inconsistent on all levels. We've had lapses on different levels all year, it seems - never the same areas," he explained. "You have to play as a unit to be successful and we have been a defense where nine guys are in position and two aren't all year, it seems. We have to get that right to win our last game."

Cornell thinks the future is bright for Ole Miss and he feels the defense will be fine.

"We have a lot of young guys most people don't know much about who are going to be real good - Carlton Martin, Charles Sawyer, Damien Jackson, Bryon Bennett, Mike Marry, Marcus Temple, Carlos Thompson, Gerald Rivers, D.T., Joel Kight. . . There will be talent here and they are getting experience now. They should be alright by next year," he noted.

When the season is over after Saturday, Cornell will go back to Cally with a degree in hand and start preparing and training for the pro draft.

He will take with him a lot of memories. His best?

"That first Cotton Bowl - that whole experience - was so much fun. The game, winning after being down 14, the celebration, the party after - which I can't say much about on record," he smiled. "That was great fun. That was a time I will always remember."

He hopes to add one more memory as well - beating State Saturday.

"I'd like to leave with a good taste in my mouth. We will put it all on the line to get that done," Cornell closed.

OM Spirit Top Stories