Senior Tim Cornett ready to lead offense, on pace to become all-time rushing leader

Posted: August 10, 2013 in General, NCAAF
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Cornett

Senior running back Tim Cornett is on pace to become UNLV’s all-time rushing leader this season.

By W.G. Ramirez

In the UNLV football media guide he’s referred to as Timmy Touchdown.

But forget for a moment running back Tim Cornett is climbing UNLV Football’s career charts for touchdowns, he enters his senior campaign as the leading active FBS rusher with 11 career 100-yard rushing games. Last season he topped the century mark eight times. He’s also 700 yards away from becoming the all-time career rushing leader in UNLV history.

But ask the 6-foot, 210-pound power blaster about his junior year and he sounds more disappointed than anything else.

“The season I had last year, I felt like it wasn’t good enough,” said Cornett, earlier this week after a practice at Rebel Park. “I felt like I got a little complacent at the end of the season. It’ll be a different year this year.

“Every day I’ve got to come to practice and do something better than what I haven’t done the day before.”

Perhaps that’s why he was so exuberant after blasting through UNLV’s defense for a touchdown near the end of the final practice at Rebel Park on Friday, one day before the team left for Ely, Nevada for its annual camp in Northeast Nevada. You would have thought Cornett was under the lights at Sam Boyd Stadium in a real game.

“I feel like mentally I’m at the right pace,” he said. “Being a senior I know have a leadership role.”

And that means in a very balanced offense – the same that had 452 rushing attempts and 468 pass attempts last season – Cornett knows his presence will be important at all times.

“The running back position is a pretty physically volatile position,” head coach Bobby Hauck said. “They’ve got a collision on every play, whether it’s carrying the ball or in pass protection. You have to have good depth there. Tim’s a competitive guy, and Tim doesn’t want to come out of the game. But we’re going to be smart in terms of our running back position, in particular the first half of the season and pretty liberally roll those guys through.”

Hauck also knows he doesn’t want another injury to his star running back, the same way he incurred one in the first game of last season, against Minnesota. Cornett said everyone was aware there was something going on inside his shoulder, but what no one realized was it was a torn labrum that was hampering him.

“It limited me more than I wanted it to, I had to come out of the game sometimes, but I didn’t want to,” Cornett said. “I felt like I could have had a much better season, but I feel like I made the right decision by playing through the entire season and getting surgery after the season and sitting out spring.”

Running backs coach Dominic Daste said Cornett has recovered, appears to be ready for the upcoming season, and is 100 percent for the season opener in Minneapolis against the same Minnesota team he injured it against last year.

“When it comes to working out, rehabbing, that kind of thing, he is a monster and works his butt off,” Daste said. “It’s very easy to not be in shape and not excel in the weight room when you’re hurt, but he has made huge strides in the weight room with a shoulder that limits at times as he was rehabbing. I was really excited to see that.”

So no matter how balanced the Rebels attack may be, and as much as the Rebels will come up firing with their pass attack, much of their offensive game will be set up through the rushing attack, which is led by Cornett.

“I know my role is very important on the team,” Cornett said. “Me not making plays could be a detriment to us, so I feel like every game I go into or every practice I go into I know I have to be better at something.”

By mid-season, he may be better than any other rusher in UNLV history. Cornett is ranked fifth all-time with 2,449 yards, exactly 700 yards behind all-time leader Mike Thomas’ 3,149.

“We believe in strong running game because we think that gives you control of the game; if he’s got (the record) about the middle of October then I think we’re probably clicking pretty well on offense,” Hauck said. “Tim’s put in some good work in his time here. He’s done some good things. Our anticipation is that he has his best year as Rebel and he leaves here as a career rushing leader.”

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