Getting on the plane heading back from Alabama after he committed to the Crimson Tide, Norman North quarterback David Cornwell was ready to relax.
That didn't last long.
On the plane, the passenger behind Cornwell stood up and wanted to shake his hand and congratulate him on his decision.
“It's never going to sleep,” Cornwell said of the attention that goes along with being one of the most high-profile prospects in the country. “It's going to be here year-round but I'm ready to attack it.
“That's the life I've been born into so I've got to embrace it.”
Physically, at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, Cornwell certainly looks like he was born for the part.
But much more than that went into it.
Not long before his family moved to Jones from Florida in early 2012, Cornwell started working out with former Oklahoma offensive coordinator Joe Dickinson.
That's when Cornwell said he started turning the corner from a physically impressive yet extremely raw quarterback to one who would eventually draw the eye of the top football program in the nation.
“A lot of hard work went into it,” Cornwell said. “A lot of times, no one cares if you're out there but you've got to keep at it until you get there and they do care and once you get there, you can't let it go to your head. You've still got to work like the guy who was unranked and always stay focused and working toward your next goal.”
Cornwell, who moved from Jones to Norman North after last season, credits his parents with giving him the initial push in the sport. Cornwell embraced that after a series of workouts during late 2011 that left him with a sore arm, bloody feet and sometimes questioning whether it was all worth it.
“Your parents are always pushing you — ‘Yeah, you're the next Derek Jeter' or something like that,” Cornwell said. “It started out like that and then my coaches kind of asked me, ‘Do you really want this?' When it came down to it with those workouts, that's when you really learn.”
There's no doubting anymore how he feels about football.
“It was a little bit at the start,” Cornwell said of being pushed to work hard. “Now, it's totally mine. I'm taking it. This is my life and this is my pride. I feel like I can do this and provide for my family in the future.”
Norman North coach Wade Standley wasn't sure what to think when Cornwell arrived at the school.
He was thrilled to have a player of Cornwell's stature around but didn't want to get too excited in case Cornwell's appeal to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association was denied.
Standley also wasn't sure how a player of that caliber would integrate into a team that had made the Class 6A title game just a few months earlier.
“He's fit in with our program from Day 1,” Standley said. “He's gone to work, wants to win and wants to get better. He has great tools. He's got some God-given gifts that he's trying to maximize and we're excited about the possibilities and what's ahead.”
Just a few days before committing to Alabama, Cornwell received word that his hardship application for an additional semester of eligibility had been approved.
Cornwell continues to work with Dickinson. He's also recently started working with George Whitfield, who tutored former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones as well as Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
“Joe's always been my guy. He's always been there for me,” Cornwell said. “George is maybe a once-in-a-month deal. I'm trying to get with those college guys.
“You always want to get two or three opinions.”