Like any college football player, former Kansas University running back Jon Cornish often thought about his professional future while still playing for the Jayhawks.
But while many watched KU’s leader for yards in a single season (1,457 in 2006) and attempted to project how he would fare in the NFL, Cornish, a native of New Westminster, British Columbia, had his eye on the Canadian Football League.
“I’ve always known I can be a top running back in this league,” said Cornish during a recent interview with the Associated Press. “I’m not going to lie. That’s the reason why I came up to the CFL rather than being some backup in the NFL. I wanted to be one of the best Canadian players to ever play this game.”
After his stellar 2011 season, some are beginning to wonder if that’s possible. While helping the Calgary Stampeders to an 11-7 record and a berth in the West semifinals, Cornish ran for a career-high 863 yards and added nine touchdowns. He also added 385 receiving yards and caught two touchdown passes, all while serving as the backup for 13 weeks before earning the starting role for the final five weeks of the season.
With the 2012 season set to begin today and Cornish a bigger part of the Stampeders’ plans, offensive coordinator Dave Dickenson said he liked what he had seen from Cornish throughout training camp.
“Jon showed when he’s given the workload, he’s right there with any back in the league,” Dickenson told the AP. “As long as he focuses on the game I think he’ll have a great year. He’s a smart player. This year he’s shown to catch the ball better. He’s obviously a very good runner. He’s got pretty good top-end (speed) and he’s strong. He breaks tackles. He really is the complete package.”
Cornish, who recorded 12 100-yard games at KU from 2003-06, was drafted in the second round (13th overall) of the 2006 CFL draft.