Cretin-Derham Hall defensive end Jashon Cornell no longer holds ESPN’s No. 1 national ranking in the 2015 football recruiting class, but his combination of size, speed and intelligence gave him his pick of elite college programs.
Cornell, now ranked No. 16 on that same list, announced Wednesday that he is heading to Ohio State.
“I think it was my relationship with [Buckeyes defensive line coach] Larry Johnson, and my auntie lives 30 minutes from their stadium,” Cornell said. “I have family down there, so I don’t have to worry about getting homesick.”
Cornell would have been surrounded by family had he selected the Gophers, but he excluded Minnesota from a top five that also included Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State and Iowa.
“[The Gophers] were actually number six on my list,” he said. “The reason they weren’t in my top [five] is because when I was coming to the last couple weeks of my decision, they didn’t recruit me like they were. They were originally in my top five, and Iowa just stepped in because they had me call them a couple times.”
It wouldn’t have been much consolation for the Gophers, as Cornell admitted he had narrowed his list to Ohio State and Michigan State, the two teams that met in last year’s Big Ten title game.
Previously undefeated, the Buckeyes lost that game 34-20, then fell 40-35 to Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Cornell said Ohio State’s late-season defensive struggles helped spur his decision to pick the Buckeyes on Wednesday, along with Cincinnati linebacker Justin Hilliard, who ranks No. 13 on ESPN’s list.
“We felt like Ohio State was low on the defensive side, and they needed more players,” Cornell said. “So I feel like I actually have a position down there. I’ll be able to start right away or be second string.”
Cornell said he plans to graduate from Cretin-Derham Hall in December so he can enroll at Ohio State in January and take part in spring practice.
The 6-4, 260-pound Cornell already has added about 25 pounds of muscle since the end of his junior season. He is an honor roll student who scored a 27 the first time he took the ACT.
“I think he’s got a lot of upside,” Raiders defensive coordinator Dan McQuillan said. “He’s bigger and stronger than he was last year. He’s much more mature. I think the whole recruiting process has been hard on him, a little overwhelming.”
Cornell will be the latest on a long list of Cretin-Derham Hall recruits to play out of state, joining Seantrel Henderson (Miami, Fla.), James Onwualu (Notre Dame), Michael Floyd (Notre Dame), Rafael Eubanks (Iowa) and Matt Carufel (Notre Dame).
“I think [Cornell] gave the Gophers a real good chance,” McQuillan said. “He has nothing but positive things to say about Coach [Jerry] Kill and his staff. They’ve treated him great. [Ohio State] was just a better fit.”
Gophers D-back recruit doesn’t make grade
While the Gophers continue waiting and hoping running back recruit Jeff Jones can become academically eligible this summer, they know for certain another member of their 2014 recruiting class didn’t make it.
Ra’Shaun Croney, a defensive back from Pahokee, Fla., hit a snag while trying to meet his academic requirements. The consensus three-star recruit also had offers from South Carolina and Arkansas
and committed to Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College at one point.
The Gophers made him a late addition to their 2014 class on March 31, knowing they were taking a chance. They are loaded with defensive backs for this fall and plan to use Croney’s scholarship on an additional defensive back for the 2015 class.