CRETE – It’s hard to believe that the Doane Tigers hosted a playoff game last season without their leading receiver from the previous year, but that’s exactly what they did.
“I was running a route and my foot got caught in the turf. My cleats stuck and it snapped my ankle.”
Following a season in which the Tigers went 9-2 and made the playoffs, Jacob Cornelius suffered a huge setback in camp for his senior season. The injury caused him to miss all of last season with the Tigers again finishing 9-2 and making the postseason.
“It was fun to watch, but it was tough, too, just knowing that I probably should have been out there with them and been a part of it. I was still a part of it, I was captain with three other guys. It was really just my teammates keeping me involved more than anything, trying to be the best leader that I can be on the field. It was fun watching them have success and everything.”
In the 2015 season, Cornelius led the Tigers with 37 catches for 717 yards and 11 touchdown catches. He was issued a medical redshirt after his injury last year, allowing him to play one more season with Doane.
“It’s a lot different because last year I thought I was done for awhile, and now I have my extra year. I’m just trying to make the most out of it because this is my last chance.”
His recovery process to get ready for 2017 featured nine months of rehab, with a few set backs. Cornelius tried to play the final three games of the season, but re-injured the ankle, causing his rehab stint to lengthen.
After a successful winter training session, he knew he was back.
“One of the big things in me coming back was my teammates. They just really brought me in and helped me through everything. It made my decision to come back a lot easier, along with my coaches.”
In 2017, the senior is leading the Tigers in receiving yardage through four games and has Doane out to a 3-1 start.
He only needed two credits to complete his degree in Exercise Science, but is taking a full-time student course load. He will graduate in December.
“It’s a little scary. I walked in May. They let me walk early, so I got that out of the way and don’t have to come back and do that. It’s a little different. It’s kind of like high school. High school, you graduate and go on to college. Now it’s college and on to the real world, so you have to take the next step some time.”
One thing is for sure. If Cornelius could do it all over again, he wouldn’t change a thing.
“Oh it’s been great. You know, Doane was the only school I visited, so once I came here, I think I fell in love with it and my parents did, too. I don’t regret anything. I don’t regret coming back for my fifth year, and I don’t regret coming here in general. I’ve had great success in the classroom and on the football field, so I don’t regret any part of it.”
Doane follows up their first loss of the season with a trip to Briar Cliff this weekend. Listen to the matchup live on Ol Red 99-5 radio or at ncnsportsnow.com.