The Canadian Football League is often looked at as a second tier professional football league, however the game does feature a great deal of competition and entertainment. Among the best and most entertaining players in the CFL is former Jayhawks running back Jon Cornish, who is tearing it up in his home country, playing for the Calgary Stampeders.
Originally from New Westminster, British Columbia, Cornish was a two-star recruit when he came to Lawrence to play for Mark Mangino and the Kansas Jayhawks. In his first season of action, 2004, Cornish had just five yards on two attempts, along with one reception for twelve yards. 2005 is when Cornish began to break out for the Jayhawks. 918 total yards (780 on the ground) and 11 total touchdowns (2 of them rushing) was the stat line for Cornish in 2005. He also helped lead the team to a victory of the Houston Cougars in the Fort Worth Bowl at the end of the season. In 2006, his final season in Lawrence, Cornish exploded for a school record 1,457 rushing yards, a record which still stands today. His receiving production also increased in 2006, finishing with 194 receiving yards on 24 receptions. An interesting and impressive statistic from his two major seasons for the Jayhawks is that he ran for 5.8 yards per attempt in both 2005 and 2006, especially impressive considering his 250 carries in '06.
Following his time in Lawrence, Cornish headed back to Canada, as he had been drafted by the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Even with all of his success in Lawrence with the Jayhawks, he has experienced a great deal more with the Stamps. In his second season, he was a member of the 2008 Grey Cup championship team, however he was not a featured offensive player at this point. It was not until the past couple of years that Cornish has become one of the best players in all of the CFL. In 2012, Cornish repeated his 2006 rushing yardage total, netting 1,457 yards on the ground for Calgary (one note about the CFL for those not acquainted with it: the season is 18 games long, however there are only three downs instead of four and thus there is much less of an emphasis on rushing the ball). 2013 saw Cornish win the CFL MVP award, rushing for a league-high 1,813 yards (with an average of 7 yards per carry) along with 12 touchdowns. He also was the recipient of the 2013 Lou Marsh Award, an honor given to the top athlete in all of Canada. This season, Cornish's numbers have declined sharply, however this can be attributed to missing a great deal of the season so far due to injury.
Cornish is a phenomenal football player, and also a very interesting person, as highlighted by this MMQB article from June. Even with all of the record-breaking success he had as a Jayhawk, Cornish has found even more success in the CFL. Of course we all know about Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, but Jon Cornish gives Kansas fans another reason to be proud of our alumni in professional football.