Memphis hit the midway point of the second week of preseason camp, conducting a 100+ play scrimmage on Wed., Aug. 13.
In three seasons coaching Memphis’ quarterbacks, Brad Cornelsen’s starting signal callers have passed for better than 6,800 total yards and completed over 60 percent of their passes.
In his second season as the Tigers’ starter, Paxton Lynch set a school record for touchdowns responsible for (35) and became just the third quarterback in school history to pass for 3,000 yards in a season. Cornelsen was part of a coaching staff which oversaw an offensive unit average 427.1 yards per game and rank 21st nationally in scoring (36.2 points pg). The Tigers 471 points scored in 2014 was a school record.
In Cornelsen’s third year, Memphis equaled a school record for victories, posting a 10-3 record. Memphis won the American Athletic Conference championship, the program’s first league title since 1971. Memphis capped the season with a double-overtime win over BYU in the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl.
Heading into 2015 and his fourth year as a member of the Memphis coaching staff, Cornelsen’s responsibilities increase with him being named the team’s co-offensive coordinator back in January. Lynch returns for his junior season having completed 462-of-762 career passes for 5,087 yards and 31 touchdowns. He has also ran for 448 yards and 15 scores during his career.
As a sophomore in 2014, Lynch completed 259-of-413 passes for 3031 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also ran for 13 touchdowns, which ties for fifth-most in a season by a Memphis player.
Under Cornelsen’s tutelage, Lynch was named the DeAngelo Williams Most Valuable Player. Lynch was also named the MVP of the Miami Beach Bowl after completing 24-of-46 passes for 306 yards. He equaled an FBS bowl record with seven touchdowns responsible for in the win over BYU – four touchdown passes and three scoring runs.
During the 2013 season, Cornelsen mentored Lynch to a 2,000-yard passing season, just the second time a freshman quarterback had accomplished the feat.
Lynch completed 203-of-349 passes for 2,056 yards and nine touchdowns. In addition to Lynch posting only the school’s 10th, 2000-yard passing season, he also ranked in the Top 10 in season totals for pass attempts (7th), pass completions (6th) and highest completion percentage (58.2 percent / 8th).
In 2012 Cornelsen mentored Jacob Karam who set a Memphis season record with a 64.2 pass completion percentage. The Tigers’ three pass interceptions thrown in 2012 were the fewest in recorded history, breaking the old mark of six set in 2001.
In Conference USA games, Memphis raised its total offense from 243 yards per game the previous season to 327 yards an outing (a 26 percent increase). Overall, the Tigers’ 318 total offensive yard average represented a 44-yard improvement from 2011.
Memphis’ 71.43 fourth-down percentage ranked tied for seventh nationally. Only five teams converted on fourth down more times than the Tigers.
In Cornelsen’s first season on the Memphis staff, the Tigers posted a 4-4 mark in Conference USA play, winning more league games in 2012 than the previous combined three seasons. Memphis’ 4-8 overall record marked the team’s best finish since 2008.
Cornelsen joined the Tigers from Northeastern State (NSU), a Division II program located in Tahlequah, Okla., where he served as the Riverhawks’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2011, NSU ranked among the nation's leaders in passing offense (13th; 291 ypg) and total offense (22nd; 440 ypg). NSU finished 2011 with a 7-5 record and a Mineral Water Bowl appearance. The seven wins were the program's most since 2000, and the bowl appearance was the Riverhawks' first since 2000.
With Cornelsen's guidance, quarterback Johnny Deaton passed for 2,520 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2011. In addition, receiver Trey McVay was an All-America first team pick after logging 82 receptions for 1,533 yards. McVay ranked second in NCAA Division II in receiving yards per game. He also set the all-time single season receiving yards total at NSU.
A native of Texhoma, Okla., Cornelsen spent the 2008 season at Oklahoma State, where he worked with quarterbacks and special teams. The Cowboys finished the regular season with a 9-3 record and earned a berth in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. Cornelsen also spent the 2001-02 seasons as a graduate assistant coach at Oklahoma State, where he worked with quarterbacks and wide receivers.
Cornelsen coached five seasons at Illinois State (2003-07), where Justin Fuente also served as an assistant from 2001-06. The Tigers offensive staff should be familiar with each other as Fuente, Cornelsen and Holmon Wiggins (2006-10 at ISU) all coached together in 2006 at Illinois State. Offensive line coach Vance Vice also was on the Redbirds staff from 2000- 04.
In his first four seasons at Illinois State, Cornelsen guided the receiving corps. He mentored Laurent Robinson, who was selected in the 2007 NFL Draft third round by the Atlanta Falcons. In 2005, the All-American rewrote the school and conference record books with 86 receptions for 1,465 yards. In the final game of the 2005 season, Robinson totaled 292 yards on 14 catches against Indiana State. The single-game yardage total set both league and school marks. Robinson went on to claim the conference's Offensive Player of the Year Award and was a consensus All-America selection.
In 2004, Cornelsen had three receivers post 30 or more catches each, the most by a Redbirds trio since 1996. The previous season (2003), Cornelsen was instrumental in the success of All-Gateway Conference first team receiver Dwayne Smith, who led the league in receptions and receiving yards per game. That 2003 campaign also saw the Redbirds offense rank first in the conference in total offense with 420 yards per outing.
In 2007, Cornelsen moved to coaching quarterbacks and helped senior Luke Drone to an All-Gateway Conference season with 2,222 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Cornelsen graduated from Missouri Southern State with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 2000. With the Lions, Cornelsen became the first quarterback in the history of NCAA Division II football to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 2,000 yards in a career.
Cornelsen was enshrined in his alma mater’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2014.
After graduation, Cornelsen served one-year student assistant stints with his alma mater and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. He worked as a graduate assistant at Northwest Missouri State (2001) and Oklahoma State prior to landing an assistant coaching position at Illinois State in 2003.
He and wife, Jaimi, were married in the summer of 2011.