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Thursday, April 4, 2013
2015 DE Cornell excited about PSU offer

By Josh Moyer

2015 DE Jashon Cornell was standing in the lunch line Wednesday when his coach interrupted. Penn State wanted to speak with him on the phone.

The 6-foot-4 rising junior out of St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall didn't know what was coming next. He sat down to three sandwiches -- "That's how much I normally get" -- french fries and a chocolate milk before walking briskly to his coach's office. He then called the number his coach provided him.

Bill O'Brien was on the other line.

"He told me they didn't have many scholarships but that I was a special player and they wanted to offer me one," Cornell said. "It was really exciting because he said he thought I was one of the elite players of the Class of 2015 and he liked me as a player. He said I'm probably going to be the No. 1 player in my state."

Cornell is already well on his way to earning that distinction. He holds seven offers from the likes of California, Notre Dame and USC and finished his sophomore season with 26 tackles for loss and 14 sacks.

The 230-pound prospect said he's trying to take more visits to learn about the schools, so he said he wasn't close to naming favorites. His priority at this point is just finding a place with a strong business program.

"Academics are really important to me," he said. "I want to play for a school that has one of the best business schools, and I want a school where'd I fit in as a player."

His recruitment is already picking up. At first, he confused Penn State's coach with Cal's before correcting himself. It's just hard to keep track of everybody, he said with a laugh.

Still, he's somewhat familiar with the Nittany Lions. Cretin-Derham is about a 15-minute drive to Minnesota's campus, so he's watched PSU take on the Gophers before -- and he's well aware of Penn State's reputation.

"I know they're really good academically and the school is pretty good overall -- besides the incident they had," Cornell said. "But I think they'll be getting back on the roll they've been on. They're really trying to build their program back up."

Cornell didn't have any immediate plans to travel to Happy Valley since a visit means 15 hours inside of a car. But he did see Notre Dame, Northwestern, Western Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota so far. In the next two months, he also plans to see some of those same schools -- Notre Dame and Northwestern -- and several new ones, including Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State.

"I think I'll be able to get out there to Penn State sometime just to meet the coaching staff and go to one of their camps," he added.

Cornell previously filled out questionnaires that PSU sent him and read regular recruiting letters stamped with the Nittany Lion emblem. But they haven't been recruiting him all that much.

The rising junior anticipates that changing now. O'Brien told him that they're going to start coming after him hard, and Cornell said he welcomes that. He's just not ready to label his interest level in PSU.

"I'm still researching all the coaches and staff members and how their programs will fit me," he said. "So, right now, all the schools are equal."