Cunningham handles the return

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Cunningham handles the return

It seems like he runs the 40-yard dash in 3.2 seconds with a piano on his back. He bench presses 600 pounds with one arm. Normally, he catches the ball with two fingers and his eyes closed and has dropped two passes in his entire life.

Actually, if he put up numbers like that, you could call him Superman. Instead, just call him “Comet.”

At 5 feet, 7 inches, junior wide receiver Chris Cunningham isn’t the tallest player on the field. At 175 pounds he isn’t the biggest, either. It is a good thing everyone knows that size doesn’tmatter.

Since Cunningham arrived at SMU as a first-year, he has had an impact on the football team. He led the Mustangs with five touchdowns and 570 yards receiving. Cunningham quickly became the “go-to” guy on offense, but you wouldn’t know that by seeing him in the locker room or after practice. Cunningham leads by example and lets his play on the field do all the talking.

“When I play my game, my actions on the field speak louder than my words do,” Cunningham said.

Anytime you have a player named “Comet” on your team, it might be a good idea to get him the ball. Starting in his first season, Cunningham became a triple threat for offense. He had duties as a wide receiver, punt returner and kickoff return man. “Comet” busted through the earth’s atmosphere and showed no signs of slowing down. He accumulated 461 total yards in kickoff and punt returns and had a career-long 90-yard return for a touchdown.

His first-year success created a demand from the coaches for the seasons to come. Cunningham was up to the challenge and produced 444 yards receiving and 539 total yards on kickoff and punt returns as a sophomore. Cunningham isn’t the kind of guy who has an ego that requires a table for two if he goes out to dinner. His work ethic is the key factor in his development and success as a player.

First-year head coach Phil Bennett is quick to point out why Cunningham is an asset to the team.

“He is a proven player at his position that leads by example,” Bennett said.

In his third season as a Mustang, Cunningham once again lit up the sky. Running his routes and making his cuts like a well-oiled machine, he grabbed 45 passes for 516 yards and an average of 11.5 yards per reception. He started every game in 2001 and scored seven touchdowns throughout the season. He made play after play to try and give the offense a chance to pull out the win.

After putting up those kinds of numbers as a junior, Cunningham is a player the coaches will look to for leadership.

“His experience and work ethic make him a player we want to get the ball to,” Bennett said.

Just in case the coach’s demands aren’t enough to deal with, “Comet” also has the task of getting SMU football back on the winning track. He’ll be the first player to tell you that he isn’t going to try and do this all by himself. He knows that if the team comes together and works hard that anything is possible.

“When I started here there wasn’t much going right. I hope to leave the program after helping to turn things back around,” Cunningham said.

So next year when you are thinking about leaving the football game after the first quarter because it is getting close to happy hour, sit down. If, by some chance, SMU is losing at halftime and you want to leave, sit down. Maybe you feel like leaving after the third quarter because everyone else is leaving – sit down! Wait until the game is over and then tell “Comet” you appreciate the way he plays, because Cunningham is one Mustang you should know.

Cunningham handles the return

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