JUCO Report: Jaden Cunningham

Jaden Cunningham will immediately be Virginia Tech’s biggest defensive tackle. (Photo courtesy of @Jaden_C53)

Virginia Tech’s junior college signees face the pressure of high expectations, where if they aren’t immediate and dependable contributors they’ll be viewed as busts. Over the next few articles we’ll examine their specific attributes, look deeper into how they played in major games, and build on what we know about these players.

Tech’s two defensive tackle signees must play well if Tech’s going to turn the defense around.  Let’s start with Jaden Cunningham. At 6’1”, 315, Cunningham is in the mold of an A-gap plugger in Foster’s defense, and in the past likely would’ve played the “nose” role where he’d spend most of the game trying to simultaneously occupy the center and guard. In fact, at Hutchinson CC he flopped to either side of the center the same way Tech used to do.

Though on the big side for a Tech DT, he was the smaller of the two Hutchinson starting DTs: playing next to him was Jamykal Neal, who checked in at 6’3” 338. When Hutchinson went odd front, Cunningham moved to DE. From his stature and dearth of stats, I figured he was a plugger type Tech signed with the hope he’d just keep the linebackers clean for a few snaps. Turns out I was mistaken.

First let’s run through his year-end highlight video with an eye for the plays that caught my attention: