Since 2007, the year Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, no true freshman quarterback has seen the field for the Crimson Tide
On top of that, Cornwell is still recovering from a knee injury that cut short his senior season at Norman (Okla.) North.
And if that wasn’t enough, Cornwell will enter a six-man quarterback race as the youngest of the group, competing rising senior Blake Sims, rising junior Jacob Coker, rising sophomore Alec Morris, and two players who will be redshirt freshmen: Parker McLeod and Cooper Bateman.
But Cornwell won’t let any of that get his spirits down.
As far as his knee goes, Cornwell won’t put a percentage on how healthy he is. He said he feels “very ahead of schedule, but obviously we’ll find out in the spring.”
Outside of strengthening his knee, Cornwell said he wants to work on his footwork.
“I want to be explosive,” he said. “I think if I have a good base ... you know, a lot of quarterbacking starts with the feet. A lot of people don’t realize that. The feet guide the arm.
“I want to have active feet, jump rope, footwork drills, all that stuff to get myself.”
Cornwell said he works out three times a day with the potential of a fourth if he has to throw.
“It’s tough, but obviously it’s great when you get on the machine and see the result and see what you’re working for,” he said. “You see (head athletic trainer) Jeff Allen get excited and then you get excited, where you are with this knee, how far it’s progressed with this struggle. I wouldn’t give up a minute of it. It cut my season short, but I met so many people on the way.
“It reassured my confidence with Alabama, how they were so caring, still let me sign with them. To get a scholarship here was very important to me.”
Cornwell showed his gratitude before he arrived on campus by being one of the 2014 classes’ most vocal recruiters at various camps, all-star games and through social media. But he isn’t taking any credit.
“Zero. Without Coach Saban, without the pedigree, without the past players,” Cornwell said. “You can’t take any credit for this. I just try to give them friendly reminders, advice, what I did when I decided. I think a lot of these guys made the right decisions for their families. And I think other guys (who) went to other schools, LSU, I think they made the right decisions, too.
“Everyone here is here for a reason, and I think made the right decision.”
Cornwell said he knows he has a long road ahead before he has the chance to take a snap at Alabama.
The first order of business will be getting healthy while also adjusting to college and learning the Tide’s offensive scheme.
“I’m just trying to get back here and do it myself, get back to my old self,” Cornwell said. “I feel like I’m in a good spot, and confident in where I’m at.”