The Alabama Crimson Tide landed a big-time prospect for the 2014 class with the verbal commitment of David Cornwell. While head coach Nick Saban has been known to use game managers, there is no denying that Cornwell has the ability to become a game-changer.
While positional rankings for Cornwell vary according to which scouting agency you use, no one should argue against the idea that he has the highest ceiling of any quarterback in the 2014 class.
Cornwell is a kid who, if he works hard and continues to grow, could be a first-round draft pick in the NFL one day.
Not only does Cornwell have the kind of size most offensive coordinators only dream of at 6’5” and 241 pounds, he has a greater arm than most of his peers. When watching film of Cornwell, it is clear that he can make any throw you ask of him.
Moreover, not only can he make all the throws, but he makes it look effortless. He reminds me of former Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Matthew Stafford in that regard.
He has a quick release and the arm strength to get the football to his receivers in a hurry but has the ability and understanding of when to take steam off of the pass. He also has great touch on his deep ball.
After watching hours of film, the thing that surprised me the most was his ability to throw on the run and his deceptive running ability. He will never make the U.S. 100-meter Olympic team, but he is a load as a runner and has the ability to not only keep plays alive but gut out first downs with his feet as well.
There is only one major concern in Cornwell’s game, and that is that he doesn’t have a lot of playing experience. He was only a starter for less than two seasons (season-ending knee injury this season) at Norman North High School (Okla.) but has great mechanics for the limited amount of games he has started.
He does need more consistency, but that will come with more game experience. He could be a perfect fit for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.
He is a pocket passer with a rocket arm and deceptive athleticism. The reality is that the quarterback position is changing, and as we saw this past weekend, a quarterback with the ability to use his feet is very beneficial.
Cornwell is an example of where old-school football and new-school football meet and produce a star. While Alabama has enjoyed some very talented quarterbacks under Coach Saban, none have been as physically gifted as Cornwell.
I had a chance to interview Cornwell recently on one of my radio programs, Roll Damn Tide on Bama Sports Radio, and was impressed with how he works to improve his game. He informed me that he studies game film of NFL quarterbacks Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Watching him on film, his throwing motion is very similar to that of Tom Brady. I note that because it shows Cornwell already has great study habits and enjoys watching game film, something that is required for greatness at this level.
You might be asking, if he is this talented, why did he not start until his junior season? The answer is twofold. First, Cornwell did not blossom into the physical specimen that he is today until his junior season.
He was only 6’1” as a sophomore as he led the junior varsity team. However, he had to miss the fall semester in 2011 while his mother was seriously ill. By the time he returned to the field for the 2012 season, he had shot up to 6’5”, and his body had filled out.
In his first season as a starter, he threw for 2,742 yards and 27 touchdowns at Jones High School, which plays in Oklahoma’s fourth-largest classification.
He would then transfer to Norman High School, and after first being denied, Cornwell was granted an extra semester of eligibility by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association after his appeal.
The season did not go as planned, despite a great start, because Cornwell suffered a knee injury on special teams and was forced to sit out the rest of the season.
As I stated earlier, his lack of experience makes him an ideal candidate for a redshirt, but he could compete for the starting job as early as this spring. Cornwell will be an early enrollee and will be able to participate in spring drills.
The extra time will be beneficial for many reasons, but the news that he would be participating in spring drills was exceptionally good news because it was unclear how his injured knee was healing.
Cornwell and Norman North would not give details about his season-ending knee injury, but he told me the doctors officially cleared him last week. In my opinion, a redshirt is likely this coming season, but if this young man has the work ethic that I believe he does, he will not be on the bench long.
Dr. SEC has a weekly radio program, The Waiting Room with Dr. SEC, that broadcast on 14 stations across five states and also has a daily radio program that airs on Bama Sports Radio. His daily writings are syndicated to newspapers and magazines. Visit his website at www.drsec.org and follow him on twitter at twitter.com/thedrsec