Houston Texans inside linebacker pick Zach Cunningham was selected as the Tennessee Sports Writers Association as the state’s 2016 player of the year. The award was announced on Thursday afternoon and Cunningham will be honored at the TSWA Hall of Fame banquet on July 13th.
Cunningham was selected in the second round by the Texans in the 2017 NFL draft out of Vanderbilt which was the highest defensive selection for the school in 16 years. Cunningham led the SEC with 125 total tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss. His totals during the 2016 Commodore season was the most by a defender in over a decade.
The reviews have been good of Cunningham early during the spring, especially from linebacker coach Bobby King.
“So far so good. We’ve obviously thrown a lot at him. He’s been here a couple months now, six weeks,” King explained. “We just look for him not making the same mistake two days in a row, and he’s been good at that. He’s getting better every day. I’m excited to have Zach.”
Cunningham worked through the entire spring at inside linebacker working with Benardrick McKinney and learning from Brian Cushing out on the field. Cunningham is leaning on Cushing to teach him the ways of the Texans defense and how to be a professional.
“As far as coming in, he’s a veteran so he definitely has a lot to teach me about how things are run in the NFL and how to take coaching and how to adjust to the next level,” Cunningham said of Cushing.
There are high expectations for Cunningham with the Texans in 2017 but his strong pedigree that many have noticed at his time in Vanderbilt is exactly why the Texans selected him in the draft.
“We saw a guy at Vanderbilt that was a productive guy, but with all due respect to Vanderbilt, this is a whole different ball game,” Bill O’Brien said of Cunningham. “So, he’s coming in here. He’s learning our system. He’s a guy that’s athletic. He’s a hardworking guy.”
He and Memphis coach Mike Norvell will be honored at the upcoming TSWA Hall of Fame banquet on July 13 at Baird Chapel on Cumberland University's campus. Read More HERE
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