Coach Breaks Down Cunningham's Visit

Four star Pinson (Ala.) linebacker Zach Cunningham has enjoyed a surge of success on the recruiting trail since the end of his senior season. After taking an official visit to Auburn over a week ago, he tripped out west this weekend for an official to Oregon. His offensive coordinator at Pinson Valley, Chris Mills, told what Zach thought of the trip.

"He enjoyed it," Mills said. "It was his first time out west. Honestly, it was only the second time he had been on an airplane. The first time was when he flew out for the Semper Fi game a couple weeks ago. He enjoyed, obviously, all the Nike stuff and the facilities out there being second to none. Those were some of the high points that he talked about."

Cunningham was hosted by Ducks linebackers coach Don Pellum, and Mills spoke highly of the longtime Oregon assistant, who is starting to become a familiar face around Pinson.

"He's talked a lot about Coach Pellum," Mills said. "Me personally, I've been really impressed with him. He's been down here three times specifically to see Zach and talk with him and his family through this process. That would be Zach's position coach as well and he's kind of started building his relationship with him."

Since former Ducks linebacker Anthony Wallace announced his intention to transfer earlier this month, Oregon has been looking for another linebacker to come in and compete for playing time. The potential for early playing time was one of the most important things Cunningham took away from the trip according to Mills.

"That seemed to be one of the big pitches the coaching staff threw at him this weekend was the opportunity to get in early and be on the field," Mills said. "Just going with what you see on television and what Oregon has done over the past four years on both sides of the ball, the fact that they are recruiting speed at every position, I think that was one of the things that set Zach apart being 6-4 but also being able to run sideline to sideline. I would have to say that seemed to be what stuck out to him the most when I talked to him."

With visits to Vanderbilt and Miami set up in the next two weeks, Cunningham will remain busy up until signing day. According to Mills, Cunningham doesn't have a favorite and is waiting to take all of his visits before weighing his options.

"That's kind of where his head is now," Mills said. "He's taking it all in, he doesn't have a favorite it doesn't seem like right now and he's enjoying his visits."

According to a report by Mark Murphy of, Cunningham stated that his mother wants him to stay close to home for school and that it could play a factor in his decision. Mills addressed that situation.

"I don't think you could ever say it's not a factor," Mills said. "He comes from a big family. He has six brothers and sisters. But, Zach is very smart and goal-oriented and he wants to play in the NFL. He also wants to get the best education he can get. This is a kid who understands the value of the degree on top of his football career. I think staying close to home will be a part of his decision, but from the vibe I get from talking to him it's not going to be a deal breaker. If, after these visits, he feels that Oregon is the best fit, he's going to go to Oregon. The same goes for Auburn or Vanderbilt or where ever."

Mills said that Auburn will be visiting Cunningham in-home tonight and that he expects more to be scheduled in between Cunningham's official visits. However, Cunningham is still in no rush to make a final decision.

"If it happens before signing day I'll be surprised," Mills said.

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