X-Factor Vanderbilt: Can Cunningham fill the void in the receiving game?
In preparation for the 2014 college football season, Saturday Down South takes a look at the X-factor for every SEC team. Not only do these players have the opportunity to make major contributions for their respective squads, but they could also be the difference in a successful season or a losing season.
Today, we’re discussing the X factor for the Vanderbilt Commodores.
- OLE MISS
- MISSISSIPPI STATE
- SOUTH CAROLINA
- TEXAS A&M
WR Jordan Cunningham
At this point in his career, there’s only two things Vanderbilt sophomore receiver Jordan Cunningham shares with former Vandy great Jordan Matthews: his first name and his position.
Of course, it’ll take a monstrous effort on Cunningham’s part over these next three seasons to share the same success that Matthews had at Vanderbilt, but there’s reason to believe that Cunningham can be a real x-factor for the Commodores in 2014.
With a brand new head coach and a new quarterback, the ‘Dores are searching for some consistency. After being just one of three true freshman to see playing time for Vandy last season, Cunningham now finds himself as the de-facto leader of a young corps of wide receivers.
Despite the gaping holes in production left by the departures of Matthews and Jonathan Krause, Cunningham is ready and eager to step up as the primary receiver for the ‘Dores.
“I learned a lot from [Matthews’] work ethic and that you always have to do the extra little thing to get better each day,” Cunningham said. “From (Krause), I learned a lot of development skills from the wide receiver position. He has really quick feet.”
At 6-foot-1, 175-pounds, Cunningham came into Vanderbilt as a heralded high school recruit. He hauled in just 15 catches for 123 yards, but eventually worked his way up to being the team’s No. 3 receiver last year. Matthews and Krause combined for 154 receptions and 2,958 receiving yards, which is roughly 74 percent of Vanderbilt’s total receiving yards from last season.
Can Cunningham reach Matthews’ level this season? Probably not. It’ll be a process, but there’s real potential for Cunningham to be the next great Vanderbilt wide receiver. They’ll need him this year, though. Expect the sophomore to standout for the ‘Dores in what could be a transitional year for Vanderbilt as new head coach Derek Mason gets his feet wet in the SEC.