Cornish chooses Calgary

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

Jon Cornish could have left the Kansas Jayhawks for big-league football destinations such as Chicago, Carolina or Kansas City.

Instead, the record-setting college running back is coming to Calgary, spurning free-agent offers from the No Fun League.

Cornish signed with the Calgary Stampeders yesterday after not being selected in the NFL draft over the weekend.

Calling it a "dream come true," the New Westminster product will suit up for the team that picked him in the second round of last year's CFL draft.

"I'm Canadian through and through," said Cornish from Lawrence, Kan., where he is finishing his psychology degree.

"My friends and I came up with a different acronym for the CFL: The Cool Football League.

"I will be an hour away from home and playing football. It will be great to be that close to my family again. They are really excited."

When the Stamps took Cornish with the 13th overall pick last year, it was a gamble.

He was heading into his senior season and had the potential to draw enough attention in the U.S. that he may never come back to Canada.

Cornish did his part to prove he could play, rushing for a Jayhawks-record 1,457 yards in 12 games this season.

His 5.8-yards per carry is also the best by a Kansas running back who had more than 200 attempts.

But he told the Stamps that unless he was drafted into the NFL, he would come to Calgary because he didn't want to just be training-camp fodder.

He stuck to his word and said he refused free-agent offers from eight NFL teams because he wants to play and should get a chance with the Stamps.

"Basically, (the NFL) is 12 months of work," Cornish said. "NFL teams know where you are 24/7.

"That's what I wanted to get away from in the U.S. I want to play and dedicate myself but I don't want football to become who I am."

Outside of the game, Cornish has a long-term goal of applying his degree to a job but he also has an alternate that may surprise some people.

"What I want my final career to be is a counsellor or ... a librarian," Cornish said. "I'm heavy into information. I call myself an information architect."

Cornish joins a talented backfield in Calgary with imports Joffrey Reynolds and Wes Cates and Canadian fullback Cory Hathaway.

Cates has an advantage in that he grew up playing three-down ball, has non-import status and has experience covering on specials teams.

The Stamps hold three of the top six picks in tomorrow's CFL draft and Cornish's signing gives them some flexibility going in. They can now take another player who may be a year away instead of looking for immediate help.


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