AT COLORADO: 2011 (Sr.)—He played in all 13 games, and started the final six at nose tackle in seeing 430 snaps from scrimmage. He racked up 24 tackles (seven solo), with three passes broken up, two tackles for zero, a third down stop and a fumble recovery. The latter was huge, as it helped thwart one of Utah’s late drives in CU’s 17-14 win over the Utes in the season finale in Salt Lake City (he returned it eight yards). It was the perfect bookend play to his career, as his first stat was an interception at Florida State as a freshman. He missed the last half of spring practice due to an elbow injury (subluxation); he was fine by the start of summer workouts. He entered his senior season as CU’s most experienced defensive tackle on the roster with 1,356 career plays and 24 consecutive starts.
2010 (Jr.)—He started all 12 games at defensive tackle, playing 625 snaps from scrimmage, fifth-most on the defense. He recorded 31 tackles, 24 solo, including five for losses, four tackles for zero gains and one quarterback sack. He had four third down stops, two pressures, a pass broken up and a QB chasedown (near-sack). He recorded at least one tackle in every game, with a season-high of five against both Oklahoma and Iowa State (four solo in each game); had had four at Nebraska and three in three other games. He had just 11 tackles in the first seven games of the year, but racked up 20 over the course of the last five as he again did a solid job of disturbing the opponent running game up the middle.
2009 (Soph.)—He started all 12 games at defensive tackle, playing 586 total snaps from scrimmage, including 58 of a possible 62 in the opener against Colorado State, his first career start. He recorded 41 tackles on the season (24 solo), with three for losses, including two quarterback sacks, and three others for zero gain. He also had three third down stops, four passes broken up, one caused interception, one touchdown save and one quarterback pressure. He had a career-high six tackles (three solo) at West Virginia, after posting five (three solo) against Wyoming the previous week. He recorded his first career sack against Kansas, a monster 14-yard loss midway in the fourth quarter, with his other coming at Kansas State the next week. He had four or more tackles in seven games overall. He was a recipient of the Gold Group Commitment Award, selected by the CU coaches, which recognizes excellence with class in a variety of areas.
2008 (Fr.)—He played in all 12 games (no starts), as he was in for 145 snaps from scrimmage. He had nine tackles on the year (six solo, two for losses), along with two passes broken up, a quarterback hurry and a chasedown (near sack). His first career statistic came in the fourth game of the season against Florida State when he intercepted a pass off of his own deflection and returned it 10 yards; he was thus also credited with a caused interception on the play. He had two tackles, both solo, against Texas and Kansas; the two against the Longhorns were both for losses. The coaches selected him for a Gold Group Commitment Award for his actions, demeanor and commitment to excellence throughout the season.
HIGH SCHOOL—As a senior, he was named All-Midlands by PrepStar and SuperPrep, the latter of which ranked him as the No. 44 player overall in the region and the third rated defensive tackle. EA Sports selected him as a third-team All-American (it selects fewer players to its team than others). Scout.com ranked him as the fourth top player in Colorado and the No. 42 defensive tackle in the nation, while Rivals.com ranked him sixth and No. 46 in the same, respectively. He was named All-Colorado (Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, the only repeat member on the team in the state), along with garnering first-team All-State and All-South Metro Conference honors. He was also the Rocky Mountain News 5A State Player of the Year, 5A South Metro Conference MVP and the Denver Post Defensive Player of the Year. He was the recipient of the John Lynch Star of the Month Award for the month of October and he was a member of the All-American Under Armour Football Team. A two-time South Metro Defensive Player of the Year, afforded the honor his junior and senior years. A four-year letterman in football and a senior team captain, he played both tackle and end in recording 75 tackles, eight sacks, two forced fumbles and two recoveries. He also started at offensive tackle as a senior, allowing zero sacks and paving the way for Columbine to rack up 3,633 yards and 47 touchdowns on the ground, including two backs who rushed for over 1,000 yards. As a junior, he was named first-team All-State, All-Conference and was the Class 5A Defensive Player of the Year. He was the Denver Post Player of the Year as he played solely defense and registered 85 tackles, five sacks, two forced fumbles and two recoveries. He was a first-team All-Conference selection as a sophomore, as he racked up 50 total tackles. His top game as a senior came in a 17-16 loss to Pomona in which he recorded 10 tackles and a sack on defense. As a junior, he registered eight tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sack in a 35-14 win over Pomona. Under head coach Andy Lowry, Columbine went 46-6 during Cunningham’s tenure, including 11-1 in his senior season (losing to Bear Creek in the state quarterfinals), 13-1 his junior year (state champions); 10-2 his sophomore season, losing to Douglas County 40-28 in the first round; and 12-2 his freshman year. He also will letter four times in baseball (first baseman), as he was named All-Colorado and first-team All-State (5A) and All-Conference as a junior. As a sophomore, he was named first-team All-Conference, and as a freshman he was an honorable mention performer.
ACADEMICS—He is majoring in International Affairs at Colorado and is on schedule to graduate in May 2012. A 2007 Colorado Chapter/NFF Scholar-Athlete (one of 12 selected and honored by the organization). One of his biggest academic prep accomplishments was registering a 4.2 GPA during the fall of his senior year (he maintained an overall grade point of 3.6). A member of the National Honor Society at Columbine, he earned honors in advanced placement calculus, chemistry and sociology.
PERSONAL—He was born July 26, 1989 in Denver. Hobbies include hunting. A grandfather (David Welton) played defensive end for Colorado State in the mid-1950s. He is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has done extensive community service in the Denver-Boulder metro area. As a senior, he was one of 12 finalists for the Fred Steinmark Award, which honors the state’s prep best in athletics, academics and community service.
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ADDITIONAL STATISTICS—Interception Returns: 1-10, 10.0 avg., 0 TD (2008). Fumble Returns: 1-8, 8.0 avg., 0 TD (2011).