Zach Cunningham - Football - Vanderbilt University Athletics

#41 Zach Cunningham


Class Redshirt Junior
Height 6'4"
Weight 230
Hometown Pinson, Ala.
High School Pinson Valley

• 2015 First Team All-America (FWAA, AP, AFCA, Walter Camp, ESPN, USA Today, & more)
• 2016 Butkus Award Finalist
• 2016 Chuck Bednarik Award Semifinalist
• 2015-16 Coaches First Team All-SEC
• 2015-16 Associated Press First Team All-SEC
• 2016 Midseason All-America (,, Sporting News,
• 2015 Phil Steele Third Team All-American
• 2015 Phil Steele First Team All-SEC
• 2015 First Team All-SEC

Cunningham enjoyed one of the most impressive regular seasons ever by a Vanderbilt defensive player and is the midst of arguably the most decorated season in Commodore gridiron history… Became first Commodore player in team history to earn unanimous First Team All-America recognition and the 7th player ever to claim consensus All-America honors after earning first-team All-America honors from American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Associated Press (AP), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), Walter Camp Foundation, ESPN,,, The Sporting News and other outlets… Also earned First Team All-SEC LB recognition from league coaches and AP voters… In late November, Cunningham was named among five finalists for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation’s top linebacker… Also listed as a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, presented to college football’s top defensive player… Cunningham finished the season as the Southeastern Conference leader with 125 total tackles (9.6 per game), ranking among the Top Ten nationally… Cunningham’s 71 solo tackles ranked second among all SEC defenders… He also ranks among national leaders, and is tied for third in the SEC, with 16.5 tackles for loss… Additionally, Cunningham paced the SEC and ranked second nationally with four fumble recoveries… Cunningham earned National Defensive Player of the Week honors by virtually every outlet, including the Walter Camp, FWAA and Maxwell Football Club after a remarkable 19-tackle performance in Vanderbilt’s 17-16 road win at Georgia Oct. 15… The effort at Georgia featured a game-clinching tackle for no gain by Cunningham on 4th-and-1 in the closing minute of action… Cunningham closed the regular season with his second SEC Defensive Player of the Week recognition after posting 10 tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery in Vanderbilt’s 45-34 win over Tennessee… Cunningham was superb against top competition, averaging 11.1 tackles against the Commodores’ eight SEC opponents… Besides 19-tackle effort at Georgia, he has 14 stops vs. Florida, 12 tackles vs. South Carolina, and 10 tackles at Kentucky and Missouri in conference play… Registered 10 stops, including nine solo tackles, and a pair of tackles for loss, at Missouri Nov. 12… Contributed tackle for loss, fumble recovery and defensed pass in team’s 38-17 win over Ole Miss Nov. 19 prior to season finale effort vs. Tennessee… Produced nine tackles, a fumble recovery and remarkable field goal block vs. nationally ranked Auburn Nov. 5… The block, featuring Cunningham hurdling the Auburn offensive front, was an ESPN TopTen play… Four outlets – Sporting News,, and – recognized Cunningham as a Midseason All-American in October… For his career, Cunningham ranks third all-time among ‘Dores with 39.5 tackles for loss, and has amassed 285 tackles in three years.


Cunningham enjoyed a superb season as a redshirt sophomore…Efforts were noticed by others, league head coaches named Cunningham to their First Team All-SEC Defense… also named Cunningham to its First Team All-SEC squad… Played in all 12 games, earning nine starts at inside linebacker… Ranked among the league leaders in numerous statistical categories, including tackles for loss, solo tackles, total tackles, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries even though he didn’t become a starter until the third game… Cunningham’s 16.5 tackles for loss, the third highest total among SEC defenders in regular season, was most by a Commodore since All-America linebacker Jamie Winborn registered 23 tackles for loss in 1999… Cunningham’s three fumble recoveries shared SEC lead, and his four forced fumbles, bettered by just one Vanderbilt player in the last 20 years, ranked third in the league… Cunningham’s 69 solo tackles was the most by a Commodore since All-SEC linebacker Moses Osemwegie registered 78 solo stops in 2003. His 103 total tackles were the most by a Vanderbilt defender since all-league linebacker Chris Marve amassed 121 tackles in 2009…Cunningham posted at least 10 tackles in
seven of the last nine games, topped by a 12-solo tackle, 15-total tackle performance at Middle Tennessee… Ended the season with four straight double-digit tackle games, the first Commodore to do so since Osemwegie in 2005… Registered four tackles for loss and a sack among 12 tackles vs. South Carolina, and posted two forced fumbles and 2.5 tackles for loss among nine total tackles at Houston… Notched two fumble recoveries at Florida… Amassed 15 tackles for loss in seven-game midseason stretch.


Cunningham capped off a solid redshirt freshman campaign by closing the season among the team’s most productive defenders… Participated in 11 games, missing only the Charleston Southern encounter… Earned starts at inside linebacker in team’s 3-4 scheme during last five games against Missouri, Old Dominion, Florida, Mississippi State and Tennessee… Averaged 8.2 tackles as a starting LB… Finished the year with 37 solo tackles, 67 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 quarterback sacks and a forced fumble… Posted a team single-game high of 13 total tackles at Mississippi State… Registered 11 tackles, including a QB sack, vs. Florida… Had multiple tackles for loss vs. Georgia and Tennessee… Posted at least six tackles against six SEC opponents.

Did not play as true freshman… Showed athleticism as practice squad linebacker… Used first semester on campus to enhance overall strength.

High School
Senior captain and three-year starter at LB for school located just north of Birmingham… Concluded prep career by receiving Alabama 5A Lineman of the Year and Birmingham News’ Lineman of the Year honors after 2012 campaign… Amassed 448 total tackles during three-year varsity career… As a senior, earned First Team All-State after leading Indians to 8-4 record and second round of 5A playoffs… Contributed 194 total tackles, including 41 tackles for loss and 12 sacks along with four blocked punts during the season… Participated in postseason Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl… As junior, earned All-State recognition after registering 152 tackles… Also lettered in basketball and track.

Zachary Daniel Cunningham… Majoring in Economics… Son of Fred and Sophie Cunningham… Born Dec. 12, 1994… Dad works in landscaping… Has four brothers: Frederick, Ethan, Nathan and Zapheth; and two sisters, Gabriel and Danica… Enjoys playing the guitar.

Career Highs
Total Tackles: 19, at Georgia, 10/15/2016
Solo Tackles: 12, at MTSU, 10/3/2015
Tackles for Loss: 4.0, at South Carolina, 10/17/2015
Sacks: 1.0, (4x) Last vs. Texas A&M, 11/21/2015
Break Ups: 2, at MTSU, 10/3/15
Forced Fumbles: 2, at Houston, 10/31/15
Fumble Recoveries: 2, at Florida, 11/7/2015

Zach Cunningham. 02-03-15. 640 PX