Cornish signs on dotted line

Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish talks to the media after it was announced the team have signed the...

Calgary Stampeders Jon Cornish talks to the media after it was announced the team have signed the running back to a contract extension. (STUART DRYDEN/QMI Agency)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:47 PM ET

Jon Cornish is a numbers guy.

Then again, you didn’t need a mathematics degree to realize the Calgary Stampeders running back deserved a raise.

“I don’t have Jon’s stats in front of me right now,” said Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel with a grin during Tuesday’s news conference at McMahon Stadium, where the B.C.-born ball-carrier signed a four-year contract extension.

“But if you need those, feel free to go to Jon Cornish’s Twitter, because he has it up-to-date.”

Hufnagel might not have Cornish’s stats committed to memory, but he now has one of the CFL’s top homegrown talents committed for four more campaigns in Calgary. Although football contracts are never guaranteed, the re-worked deal doesn’t expire until after the 2015 season.

Just one day after the Edmonton Eskimos and the Toronto Argonauts shocked the three-down football ranks by swapping quarterbacks, the Stamps had their own reason to smile.

During Tuesday’s media session, Hufnagel asked the 27-year-old running back for a loan, while Cornish, who acts as his own agent, joked his negotiations on the new deal required “five minutes of awkward silence” with his all-business boss.

“I’m a pretty loyal person. These guys, they’ve treated me very well, and I wanted to return that,” Cornish said. “They’ve shown me that they wanted me here.

“That’s all I really needed. After I knew that, it was an easy process.”

For the Stamps, signing Cornish to a long-term extension was a no-brainer.

The former University of Kansas Jayhawks standout racked up 863 rushing yards on 119 carries, caught 26 passes for 385 yards through the air and made 13 special-teams tackles last season.

Even more impressive, he finished fifth on the CFL’s rushing charts and tied for the league lead with 11 touchdowns, all despite serving as a second-stringer for the first dozen weeks of the season.

In just eight appearances as the Stampeders starting running back, including one playoff game, Cornish registered 738 rushing yards — an average of 92.25 per outing — and scored eight majors.

Many experts have called it a breakout campaign, but Cornish — one of the most insightful and intelligent guys you’ll meet — insisted it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“The actual progression of my stats has been linear. The more opportunities I’ve gotten, it’s the same return,” Cornish said. “I’ve averaged 7.3 yards per carry on my career, and I’ve averaged 7.3 yards per carry the last two years. And when I get the ball in the open field rather than the backfield, I can take advantage of that, too.

“It’s really all about getting the opportunities,” Cornish continued. “If you’re able to be on the field, getting the ball in your hands, then good things will happen.”

Cornish will arrive at training camp next June as the Stamps undisputed starter in the backfield.

He’ll have an increased workload. He’ll be cashing larger paycheques.

More pressure, though? He’s not so sure.

“You step on the field and you have a responsibility to yourself and your team to be the best player you can be,” Cornish added with a shrug. “I don’t really think I’ve ever approached the game any other way.

“So nothing changes.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson


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