Is Zach Cunningham the best Vanderbilt football player in program history?
That may be a bold question that may be answered with names like Bill Wade, Jay Cutler or Jordan Matthews. But Cunningham can at least claim stake to being one of the most decorated All-Americans in program history.
With first-team selections on the AP, Walter Camp, FWAA, AFCA, ESPN, CBS Sports and Sports Illustrated All-America teams, and more, the talented linebacker has become the first Commodores position player to be deemed a “consensus” All-American in nearly 60 years.
— Vanderbilt Football (@VandyFootball) December 14, 2016
According to Vanderbilt, Cunningham is the first consensus All-America Commodore since punter Ricky Anderson in 1984 and just the seventh in program history.
“Cunningham becomes just the seventh player in the 127-year history of Vanderbilt football to capture consensus All-America honors – and the first since punter Ricky Anderson was selected in 1984. He is also the first Commodore position player to earn consensus honors since George Deiderich, a two-way lineman recognized in 1958.”
Cunningham led the SEC with 119 total tackles and four fumble recoveries. And he also logged 16.5 tackles for loss.
The Commodores are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2013 due in large part to his play on the defensive side of the ball. His performance against Georgia, including a fourth-down stop to seal the upset win in Athens, helped put his name on the national scene, but folks around the SEC have been quite aware of his presence for a couple of years.