BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente announced Thursday that Brad Cornelsen will be joining Fuente’s staff and will serve as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the Hokies. Cornelsen worked in the same capacity with Fuente at the University of Memphis.
“The addition of Coach Cornelsen represents the addition of another key member of our coaching staff at Virginia Tech,” Fuente said. “Brad helped us develop a winning culture at Memphis, and he deserves much of the credit for helping Paxton Lynch and our entire offense reach its full potential. We’re fortunate that he’s joining the Hokies.”
Along with Fuente, Cornelsen was instrumental in the development of quarterback Paxton Lynch who completed 758 of 1,205 passes (62.9 percent) for 8,865 yards with 59 touchdowns and 23 interceptions during the past three seasons at Memphis. In 2015, Lynch threw for 3,778 yards with 28 TDs and a mere four interceptions.
Lynch was named the MVP of the 2014 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.
Cornelsen helped transform the Tigers’ program in his four seasons at the school. Heading into the Birmingham Bowl, the Tigers ranked seventh nationally in scoring, fifth in team passing efficiency, 13th in total offense and 14th in fewest turnovers committed.
Led by Cornelsen, the Tigers’ offense entered the 2015 postseason ranked in the FBS top 15 in eight categories, and top 10 in five, including completion percentage (second; 68.9 percent), fewest passes intercepted (third, four), team passing efficiency (fifth, 137.66), Red Zone offense (seventh, 93.3 percent) and scoring offense (seventh, 42.7 ppg). He also helped a passing offense go from 73rd (173.2 ypg) in the nation in 2013 to 13th (324.3 ypg) this season.
Cornelsen also helped revive the Memphis rushing attack, seeing it rise from ranking 95th in 2013 at 138.3 yards per game to 46th this season with a 186.2 ypg average during the regular season. Last season, the team rushed for 190.5 yards a game, which finished 38th in the country.
On the strength of a seven-game winning streak to close out the 2014 campaign, Memphis registered its first 10-win season since 1938. Memphis scored 471 points in 2014, shattering the old school record of 430 points set in 2004. The Tigers also went +11 (31 takeaways/20 giveaways) in the turnover column in 2014, finishing the campaign ranked in both The AP Top 25 and in the USA Today/Amway Coaches Polls, a first in school history.
Before moving to Memphis, Cornelsen worked at Northeastern State (NSU), a Division II program located in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, 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).
A native of Texhoma, Oklahoma, 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 Fuente also served as an assistant from 2001-06. The Hokies’ 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.
A graduate of Missouri Southern State, he earned 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. He 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.