Zach Cunningham to Vanderbilt: Commodores Land 4-Star LB Recruit

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2013

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Outside linebacker Zach Cunningham has decided that Vanderbilt was the best fit for the next step of his football career. The 4-star prospect will now do everything he can to hone his skill and remain productive at the next level.

According to 247Sports composite rankings, Cunningham is the 18th-ranked outside linebacker in the nation. He is also considered to be the No. 267 overall prospect and the No. 10 recruit coming out of Alabama in the 2013 class.

He should develop into a very good college player, especially with his new coaching staff working to mold him into their system.

Cunningham stands 6'4'', but he weighs less than 200 pounds right now. That could be a problem but it's nothing that a college-level workout program can't fix. Practicing against behemoth offensive linemen every day won't hurt anything either.

His player profile on 247Sports mentions that he recorded 194 tackles, 37 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks and one interception this past season. Those numbers, no matter what, will jump off the page and suggest just how excellent Cunningham can be.

Don't expect him to develop into a run-stuffing edge player immediately, but that could come later. Instead, he will make an impact as a situational pass-rusher, using his athleticism to get around slower offensive tackles. 

He can also use his speed to match up with tight ends on obvious passing downs.

Cunningham has some filling out to do, but he has the frame to make that happen. Having his kind of length and range, he has considerable potential once he gets stronger.

Athletes like this excite any coach. He has the ability to plug into different spots at the college level, and it will be interesting to see how he's used early on in his career with the Commodores. 

There is no doubt that Vanderbilt fans will enjoy watching him improve during his collegiate career.