UNLV running back Tim Cornett is soft-spoken but doesn’t lack confidence, saying he thinks he will eventually become a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Cornett has impressed enough to become a starter as a freshman and leads the Rebels with 449 yards and six touchdowns rushing.
UNLV signed him out of Houston’s North Shore High School. Cornett chose the Rebels over Texas-El Paso and received a scholarship offer from Oregon State on signing day.
The Rebels also signed running back Dionza Bradford, who is grayshirting and will enroll in January. Cornett’s effort to hold off Bradford should be one of the more interesting position battles in the spring.
Cornett, whose Rebels (2-9, 2-5 Mountain West Conference) play at San Diego State (7-4, 4-3) at 5 p.m. Saturday, recently spoke to the Review-Journal.
1. What did your family think when you were considering UNLV?
I heard "Don’t gamble" a lot. My mom was supportive of any decision that I made. My dad was, too.
2. What sold you on UNLV?
The new coaches. I knew that I was going to get an opportunity. They weren’t going to show any favoritism or anything like that. I was going to work for my position. Not to say the old coaches wouldn’t have, but the new coaches don’t know anybody. They’re just as new as I am. I knew they were going to give everybody an opportunity.
3. What did you think when Oregon State offered you a scholarship on signing day?
I really didn’t think too much of it because I had already sent my papers in. My mom told me everything happens for a reason. Maybe I would’ve gone up there and something bad would’ve happened and I would’ve gotten hurt.
4. Do you look forward to a spring battle with Dionza Bradford?
Yes, because we’re real cool (with each other). I talk to him all the time. But on the field, it’s about competition. He wants to play, and I want to play, too. So I think that will be real fun.
5. How much has this season helped you as far as giving you experience and confidence?
Those are the two main things because that’s why I wanted to play my freshman year, is for experience and confidence. Not saying redshirting would’ve been bad. I would’ve attempted to get bigger, stronger with that extra year, but it really boosted my confidence.
6. When running backs kept getting hurt in training camp, did that push you to work harder to move up the depth chart?
I was thinking they were going to come back and (the coaches) were going to move me back down the depth chart. When I heard they couldn’t play, I thought I should step it up and get out of that high school mentality.
7. Early this season when you didn’t have a lot of carries, you seemed to make the most of what you were given. Did that help when you began to get the ball more often?
That boosted my confidence, as well as the touchdowns that I (scored). Going out there, I used to be nervous.
8. Can you average 10 yards a carry AS you did in high school?
I will later on.
9. If you do that, wouldn’t that make you a Heisman Trophy candidate?
I will be up there.
10. Since you’re from Houston, what do you think of the Texans’ struggles after a fast start?
I think they will pick it back up. I hope they will pick it back up.
I don’t think they need talent, but I also don’t think it’s coaching. They need me.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914.