Zach Cunningham missed out on the Butkus Award earlier this week but he was named 1st Team All-American by USA Today, Walter Camp, Sports Illustrated, the Sporting News and SBNation. Cunningham finished the season with 119 tackles which placed him sixth in the nation among all other defenders.
Cunningham was a highlight machine this year in Nashville. He made a crucial first down stop against Georgia on the road to seal an upset win for the Commodores against the Bulldogs. Cunningham followed it up three weeks later with a blocked field goal at Auburn that was one of the most impressive plays I’ve ever seen. The Vandy linebacker jumped over the Auburn offensive line to get the block in the fourth quarter.
Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason was thrilled that Cunningham was honored and released a statement through the school.
“Being voted as Walter Camp First Team All-America is a huge honor for Zach, all of his teammates and the Vanderbilt football program, Zach’s an outstanding young man and a tremendous football player, a guy who cares about his craft and does all the little things that great players do. He’s as good as any player I’ve coached and is very, very deserving of this recognition.”
In addition to being named All-American Cunningham was also named 1st Team All-SEC. The last Commodore to earn first team honors was Jordan Matthews in 2013. Matthews would go on to be selected by Philadelphia in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
It’s thought that Cunningham will declare for the NFL after Vanderbilt’s bowl game later this month. Mel Kiper has him projected to go in the mid to late first round.