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Sit back and imagine Mick Hubert calling this series of plays into the microphone this fall: Chris Leak finds Jemalle Cornelius near the sideline for a 40-yard reception. Leak and Cornelius hook up again for a 21-yard reception. On third-and-17 Cornelius hauls in a 29-yard pass. Leak drops back, scans the field, hits an open Cornelius who turns it up field and burns the secondary for an 18-yard touchdown. TOUCHDOWN, OH MY!
Come this fall Leak will line up under center with a new array of targets at wide receiver, and if Saturday’s scrimmage was any indication of what Gators fan will see this season, then a Leak-Cornelius combination could be on the horizon. Cornelius – who also had a 35-yard run on a reverse – hauled in four receptions from Leak for 108 yards and one touchdown in the scrimmage, while spending most of the day taking snaps with the first-team.
"I was coming out trying to make plays and just leave a lasting impression on the coaches going into season," Cornelius said. "I just have to keep the momentum going from camp into the season and just keep working on the little things. Keep getting better each and every day."
The redshirt sophomore wide receiver lined up with O.J. Small and Andre Caldwell in the first-team unit of wide receivers and showed flashes of his speed that brought him recognition coming out of Fort Meade High School in 2002.
"I am not big and I am not the fastest, but I just try and make things happen when I get the ball in my hands," Cornelius said. "That is all I did in high school, so I just try and do that right now too."
In high school, Cornelius played a variety of positions including wide receiver, quarterback, defensive back, punt returner and kick returner for the 1A classification school. Cornelius believes since he comes from a small school, he has more to prove than most players on the field.
"Sometimes guys don’t respect me as much because I went to a small school," he said. "I didn’t play against any of the big high schools and coming from a small town not many guys where I am from have a chance to play Division I. So I just go out and try to represent my hometown well."
While Cornelius was a bright spot in the wide receiver corps during the Gators’ second scrimmage, freshman wide receiver Mike McIntosh also had some impressive catches and made a lasting impression on Cornelius.
"He is going to be a real good freshman," Cornelius said. "I think he has a lot of good moves. He put on some good moves today, so I think we are going to have good depth for years to come."
Cornelius hopes that Saturday’s performance solidified a spot on the field with the first-team unit come the Gators’ opening offensive series against Middle Tennessee State, and hopes he will continue to haul in passes all season.
"If me touching the ball gives us a better opportunity to win, then I feel like coach will do that," Cornelius said. "I think we have a real, real good chance of being great. We have a lot of potential, it is just up to us to take that potential and play with it. We have a lot of playmakers and one of the best quarterbacks in the nation so that helps a lot."
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