Jared Cornelius focused on bouncing back against Aggies

By: Jimmy Carter
Published: Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Arkansas receiver Jared Cornelius catches his helmet during practice Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by David Gottschalk
Arkansas receiver Jared Cornelius catches his helmet during practice Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Fayetteville.

— Jared Cornelius switched it up on and off the field after an underwhelming performance in the 28-7 loss to TCU.

On the field, the Arkansas senior receiver ran at least 100 routes a day on his own while catching at least 200 passes a day from the jug machine.

Away from football, Cornelius cut down on his caloric intake and ate smaller portions, which resulted in him losing 10 pounds in a week, dropping down to 205.

“I just feel good. I’m moving around better,” Cornelius said.

The weight loss was no doubt also aided by Cornelius finally being able to practice in full again after being limited by a back injury during August. The lingering issue, of course, is the real culprit behind his slow start to his final go around in Fayetteville.

Missing considerable practice time and playing just seven snaps in the opener against Florida A&M put even a seasoned veteran like Cornelius behind. He was rusty as a result and it showed against the Horned Frogs.

When quarterback Austin Allen targeted him on a quick out route on the first snap of the game, Cornelius dropped it. He failed to reel in a pass over the middle late in the game, another uncharacteristic play from a receiver who has put together big games against the likes of Alabama and this week’s opponent, Texas A&M.

He was asked Tuesday about whether the first drop combined with the extended layoff had caused him to lose confidence. He said it hadn’t and then politely but firmly pushed for a subject change.

“If ya’ll don’t mind, I would like to move on to Texas A&M please,” Cornelius said.

The easiest way for him to move past the TCU performance will be to string together a stretch of big games, starting Saturday with the Aggies, a team he produced 126 yards and a touchdown against last year. That outing came after he missed a game because of a back issue and was the first of three straight games he topped the century mark.

“Immediately after that game, myself, coach (Bret Bielema) and coach (Dan) Enos got a text from him saying that will never happen again,” receivers coach Michael Smith said.

Arkansas’ pass game has been borderline anemic so far this year, with Allen struggling to get on the same page with a crop of young receivers. Cornelius, who has 76 career catches for 1,128 yards and 9 touchdowns, is the lone veteran.

Arkansas needs him to step up as it tries to rebound from a disappointing start to the season. He, Deon Stewart, Jordan Jones and Jonathan Nance will play significant reps against the Aggies, with De’Vion Warren, T.J. Hammonds, Gary Cross and potentially La’Michael Pettway figuring in.

“People are saying we’re not creating separation,” Smith said. “That’s my job as a coach to put those guys in those situations. Obviously I didn’t do a good enough job. … I’m not making any excuses, because my guys are going to be ready to play. People gotta understand that this is what I do for a living and I’m going to get these guys ready to play.”

Cornelius has done his part the last 2 weeks.

“When we let them practice in the uniforms the other day, he looked as good as he’s looked since last year,” Smith said.

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