The Bucs Cornelius Williams
By Wayne Wood
Former Hoover Buc football player Cornelius Williams is one a few Buccaneer alumni who have 4 straight state championship in football in their possession. He was a wide receiver during the seasons from 2002-2005 when Hoover went on a state title streak.
Cornelius played quarterback for the Simmons Middle School Bucs in the 7th & 8th grade. Playing both quarterback & wide receiver as a freshman at Hoover High, he was eventually pulled up to the varsity playing backup wide receiver to senior All-American wide receiver Chad Jackson gaining vital experience for the 2002 state champs. Junior John Parker Wilson was the starting QB that season.
In 2003, Cornelius played more of a vital role at receiver when John Parker led the offense again in another state title run. In 2004, senior Jarod Bryant was the starting QB leading the Bucs to a 15-0 record & another title when Cornelius was a junior. Although Cornelius could also play QB, sophomore Ross Wilson was being groomed to take over in 2005 as the signal caller.
Cornelius recalls, “My days at Hoover were fun & exciting. The practices were tough but it made the games easy. Games I remember were my sophomore year in 2003 playing at Vestavia in the semi-final playoff game and the defense stopping them on 4th and inches at the goal line. That was one of the most exciting games I have ever had the chance to be a part of. Another was my senior year in 2005 winning at Thompson throwing a TD pass on about 4th & 20 to CJ Bland.”
“I remember all we wanted to do was to continue winning championships no matter what it took. We took pride in what it meant to be a Buc. Playing at Hoover taught me how to handle adversity & how to handle pressure situations because of preparation. The coaches coaches us hard & we did not whine or complain about it but rather we embraced it. We were not soft & that allowed us to be successful.”
By the 2005 season of the senior year for Cornelius, the Hoover Bucs had become a nationally known program. MTV was in the process of doing a television series called Two-A-Days highlighting the football program & related Hoover High teen aged experiences of players. The opening game was at Buccaneer Stadium on a Saturday non kickoff against the Nease High Panthers from near Jacksonville, Florida. The game was televised live on the main ESPN channel network. QB Tim Tebow (who went on to Florida to win a national championship & Heisman Trophy) led a talented Nease team.
The Bucs won 50-29 that days with Cornelius making several key receptions from Ross Wilson. He continue to prove and showed the nation his talents as a deceptively fast, sure handed, great route running receiver. As the season progressed, Cornelius was a vital contributor.
The Bucs traveled to Tuscaloosa County during mid-season & suffered their first loss. QB Wilson also suffered a temporary concussion during the game which knocked him out of the following game on the road against big rival Vestavia. Cornelius took over the starting quarterback role against the Rebels & led the Bucs to a big victory. A great portion of the Two-A-Days sequence highlighted that in an episode later.
Ross returned later at quarterback and Cornelius went back full time to receiver. The Bucs improved throughout the season & gained revenge in a big win over Tuscaloosa County in the quarter-finals of the state playoffs at the Hoover Met. They won in the semi-finals the next week to gain a 4th straight trip to Legion Field to play for a 4th straight title.
In the state championship game game, the Bucs won big over Daphne to win the championship. Among the action shots later inserted for the Two-A-Days series for that episode was a neat touchdown of Cornelius catching a pass and diving over the goal line for a TD in slow-motion replay. He gained All-State honors as a senior with 77 receptions for 1300 yards & 18 TD’s and later played in the Alabama/Mississippi All Star Game.
In 2006, Cornelius signed a football scholarship with Troy University. He lettered four years at receiver from 2006-2009 with 63 career receptions for 764 yards & 7 TD’s with a 26-3 Sun Belt Conference record. He graduated in 2010 with a degree in Sports & Fitness Management yet found college coaching to his liking.
Cornelius soon found his first opportunity as a graduate assistant at the University of South Alabama in Mobile working with Joey Jones & Bill Clark in 2010 before embarking on a changing journey of schools as the wide receivers coach. In 2011, he coached at Murray State before going to the University of North Alabama in 2012. In 2013, he hooked up again with Bill Clark when Clark got the head job at Jacksonville State University in Alabama.
In 2014, Clark got the head coaching job at the University of Alabama/Birmingham (UAB) and Cornelius went with him. In 2015, Cornelius got the job that a lot of young coaches many times desire that being at their alma mater and for him it was back at Troy where he has been for 5 seasons since 2015 coaching wide receivers as the passing game coordinator.
Of course, we have to include the fact that his young family has been developing during that time. He and his wife, Kiley, have 3 children. Cornelius indicates, “My daughter Ellis (4) was actually born in Birmingham when they temporarily shut down the UAB program. My son Maverick (who is 3 ) was born since I’ve been at Troy and so was my daughter Wynn who is 1. They love & enjoy being around football.” The Buc Nation loves a multitude of former Buc football players such as Cornelius Williams.