The searing midday Texas sun and sultry humid air combined over the Bridgeport practice field Monday to create the most grueling of conditions.
As the first workout nears the end, Jacob Cornelison struggles to keep his 6-5, 230-pound frame going.
“It was a hard workout,” Cornelison said. “I’m working to get there.”
While exhausted, the senior can’t hide his feeling of elation. After a year on the sidelines, the offensive tackle is finally back on the field with his teammates and friends.
“It was great to be out here,” he said. “It was hard to watch everybody else and wanting to be out there.”
As a junior, Cornelison was penciled in to make his debut as a starter on the Bulls’ offensive line, but before the Bulls’ first game or scrimmage, in only the second week of practice, his season came to an end.
“We had been in pads three or four days,” he recalled. “It was in a drill at the end of the day. I was pass blocking and got hit on the side.”
The hit resulted in a torn medial collateral ligament and partially torn meniscus in his right knee. Cornelison had his knee scoped and the meniscus repaired. He was released midway through the season and tried to make a comeback.
“I was still having pain and couldn’t play,” he said.
“It was hard to watch everybody else and wanting to be there.”
Bridgeport coach Danny Henson said Cornelison’s injury was a big loss, especially to the Bulls’ passing attack. With his 6-5 frame and long wingspan, the Bulls were hoping he could provide pass protection on the outside and work in space against speedy defensive ends.
“We had high expectations for Jacob then he hurt his knee and lost a whole year of development,” Henson said. “We expected him to start at one of the tackles last year.”
Cornelison received his final medical release from doctors after last football season. He went to work to make sure he would be able to return to the field. He added a few extra pounds to help him on the line.
“He’s always had the good dimensions that we like for an offensive tackle,” Henson said. “He’s done a good job building strength and adding weight to go along with the great height and wingspan.”
The senior was grateful to be back on the field, but he realizes there’s a lot of work to do. But he doesn’t feel too far behind.
“We all need the work,” Cornelison said. “We all have problems that we’ve got to work through.”
According to Henson, the tackle looks to be on the right path.
“For the first day, he looked good,” he said. “He’s having to get used to wearing the knee braces and that will take some time.”
Cornelison is hopeful he can get through the preseason workouts without incident and finally take the field for the Bulls.
“I can’t wait to get into the season,” he said. “I’m working a lot harder and trying that much harder after a lot of time off.”