Hometown: Brockville, Ontario
High School: Thousand Islands Secondary School
Corney is yet another Canadian that has ended up playing football for the Hoos. His hometown of Brockville is right over the border from NY and just about an hour up the road from Syracuse. Still, he was basically unrecruited and his only other offer was from Buffalo. Most of the Canadians we've had at Virginia first spent some time at a prep school (usually FUMA), which Corney had expected to do. However, he did not and he enrolled at Virginia last summer and saw action right away as a true freshman, almost exclusively on special teams. He finished with 1 tackle.
Scouts often struggle with guys from Canada because of the level of competition. Corney put up some impressive numbers, but he was often playing against completely overmatched guys. However, Corney's physical attributes are unquestionable. He is a record setting track and field athlete who holds records in the javelin throw. He also runs the 100m and 400m. In fact, he is on the Virginia T&F team and will compete in the javelin throw.
Last year, Corney was listed on the roster as a LB, which is where he played in HS. He is currently listed as a DE. He was also discussed as a FB, TE, or WR. He could truly have ended up at any of these positions. Offense might actually have been a better fit for him, as he possesses truly outstanding speed for a guy his size. He's reported as a 4.3 guy, although that is ridiculous. Still, he's legitimately fast.
He's also legitimately strong, which you'd expect from a javelin thrower. It is that strength that is going to make him a good DE. He's still raw, and may need another year before he's ready to make an impact as a DE. He'll work on his technique while mostly appearing on special teams. His size and speed combination make him a good special teams prospect. How would you like to be a punt returner and see a 250 pound guy barreling down at you with that kind of speed?
Corney is currently the primary backup to Eli Harold at one DE position. The Hoos are likely to rotate a handful of players at DE, and Corney will likely be the 2nd guy off the bench behind Michael Moore. Corney is actually a similar player to Harold, although much less advanced. Both are bigger guys who possess outstanding speed. Corney is probably faster than Harold, at least in a straight line, and is also stronger than Harold. Harold, of course, has much more experience at the position and therefore is the better player.
Corney may stay at DE, or he may move back to LB, or he may end up on offense. This probably depends largely on his development. Wherever he ends up, he has considerable potential. He has NFL potential, in fact. He obviously needs to develop his game on the field, but as an athlete he would fit very well in the NFL. (As an athlete, he would fit right into the NBA or NHL as well. Hell, he'd fit right into the WWE too.)
The Hoos coaching staff probably loves working with a guy like Corney. He has so little experience that he likely has fewer bad habits than many other players. That makes his easy to mold into the type of player they want him to be. Of course, the downside to that lack of experience is that he could struggle to pick up the complexities of the game.
As it is, Corney is an asset on special teams. He will see time at DE this year, mostly in obvious passing situations. He'll have very little to read, he'll just be going right at the QB. He could do well in that role, especially against younger, less talented OTs. In time, Corney could end up being a special player for the Hoos.