2012 Intro: Michael Cunningham

LINCOLNTON, N.C. --- Inside Carolina profiles junior Michael Cunningham, a 6-foot, 210-pound athlete from Lincolnton High School.

Scouting Report

"He can play both sides of the ball," Lincolnton head coach Scott Cloninger said. "He can play multiple positions on offense. He could play receiver, he could play running back, he could play fullback, [and] he could play quarterback in a ‘wildcat' [formation].

"Defensively, he's an end [or] a linebacker. He's a great kickoff return man and punt return man.

"He has good size and runs well. And he has a nose for the ball – if that ball is lying on the ground, he's going to pick it up and run and score."

Cunningham's versatility is a huge asset.

"It's good because if I have an injury at a certain position, Michael can always slip in and take that position," Cloninger said. "Two years ago in the playoffs, we lost our fullback and we moved Michael to fullback and he had a great couple games."

Prep Career

As a junior, Cunningham was named the Gaston Gazette's Defensive Player-of-the-Year, as well as the Southern Piedmont Conference's defensive player-of-the-year. On the season, he accumulated 105 tackles, including 16 for a loss and seven sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception.

"I couldn't have done it without my coaches or my teammates," Cunningham said. "My coaches put me in a position to succeed and my teammates always do their job."

Cunningham, who starts at both running back and linebacker, also scored 16 total touchdowns – two on defense, three on punt returns, two on kickoff returns, six on rushes, and three on receptions. He also accumulated over 800 yards on offense.

"Touchdown after touchdown last year he made something happen," Cloninger said.


Cunningham is receiving interest from most schools in the ACC – specifically Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, and NC State.

Cunningham has made visits to Clemson, Duke, UNC, and NC State. His most recent recruiting trip was to UNC last Saturday.

"It went well," Cunningham said of the UNC visit. "They showed us around campus and talked about the recruiting process and academics. I got to meet the coaches and they talked about how they run their offense and defense. All the coaches were open and didn't care if we asked questions.

"I just think I can see myself going there."

UNC, like most schools, is primarily recruiting Cunningham as a linebacker.

"The way he has a nose for the ball, I think he's a defensive player in college," Cloninger said. "If somebody fumbles the ball, you know who's going to pick it up – Michael."

Extra Notes

"Peanut" has been Cunningham's nickname since the third grade. It's so commonly used that several teammates don't know his real first name… Cunningham starts on Lincolnton's basketball team, which is currently playing in the NCHSAA 2A sectionals, where he's averaging 10 points and nine rebounds a game… Cunningham is also a major part of the track and field team participating in the 100-meter dash, 4x100 relay, triple-jump, and 110 hurdles. His personal best times including 11.0 in the 100 and 14.1 in the 110 hurdles.

Video provided by Jason Pughe of AthleteVault.com.

Inside Carolina Top Stories