By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
The beard may help Jack Cornell go incognito at times.
What it never hides are his emotions.
Humbled and awed by the number of people who poured into The Pit at Quincy Notre Dame on Friday afternoon, the former QND football player who was part of the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII championship fought back the tears a time or two as he spoke at his own "Welcome home" ceremony.
"Seeing all these people here, it's easy to get choked up," Cornell said. "It just shows you the kind of family QND is."
It also shows the character Cornell has.
After the pomp and circumstance concluded and all proclamations had been read, Cornell gave all he could back to the people who showed him their support. He signed autographs. He posed for pictures. He held babies. He did a little of everything.
Still, he wasn't done.
More than an hour later, after the last autograph seeker left the gym, Cornell turned his attention to
prepping to be a guest instructor during the QND football program's overnight camp for grade school players. There, his influence will resonate for more than one night.
It will linger for years to come.
Cornell, a 6-foot-7, 320-pound offensive lineman who is on the Ravens' practice squad, once was one of those campers who developed a love and a passion for the sport. During those camps and the other activities the QND football program uses to promote youth involvement, he discovered the desire play for Raiders coach Bill Connell and be part of the tradition being established at 10th and Jackson.
He shared that story with the couple hundred people in the The Pit. He planned to share it with the campers, too.
He does that for a specific reason. Cornell had to work to achieve his goals, and he wants every future football player and student to understand nothing comes easy.
It may seem that way when a rookie free agent gets to be a part of a Super Bowl championship, and Cornell doesn't take his good fortune for granted.
"It's everything you ever work for as a football player," Cornell said. "It is incredible. For me to get there my first year is pretty incredible."
The next step is to get on the 53-man roster and on the field, something Cornell will diligently pursue.
"I'm going to do everything I did last year, but I'm going to take it up a notch," he said.
It helps having the experience of battling the likes of Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata
"That's some pretty priceless experience right there," Cornell said. "It's a challenge I embrace every day. I love going to work. I love trying to compete and get better."
He loves coming home, too.
It's the chance to relax, see his family and soak in the fact he's become a hometown hero.
"I'm humbled and I'm tremendously honored that they did this," Cornell said.
Should the Ravens repeat, he'll make plans to come home once again.
"I carry this city and this community with me everywhere I go," Cornell said.