Cunningham poised for big senior year with added weight
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FAYETTEVILLE — When he was hired, Sam Pittman made no secret about wanting bigger offensive linemen at Arkansas.
He planned to do that through recruiting, but the first-year head coach also knew he could transform some of the players already on the Razorbacks’ roster.
That is exactly what happened this offseason, as the returning linemen have added an average of 15 pounds since last season. Outside of Ricky Stromberg packing on 45 pounds, no one added more weight than Myron Cunningham.
After playing with a listed weight of 290 pounds last season, Arkansas’ starting left tackle is now listed at 325 pounds - an increase of 35 pounds.
“At first, I'd probably say it was a little challenging going from like 295 to 330 or 328,” Cunningham said. “It's a little challenging for putting that much weight on at first, but I've kind of gotten used to it. I'm still moving good. I'm still light on my feet and everything.”
Cunningham, who is entering his second season at Arkansas after transferring in from Iowa Central C.C., said the biggest reason behind his weight gain was the coronavirus pandemic that shut everything down for a couple of months earlier this year.
“Really, it was just COVID honestly,” Cunningham said. “As soon as that COVID had broken out, I started cooking at home and — I don't know — I was eating more, had less workouts. But really it was just COVID.”
That added size has led to increase strength, which will help him in pass and run blocking. Plus, in the SEC, it’s a virtual necessity to be large if you’re going to play left tackle.
“He needed it,” Pittman said over the summer. “It’s hard to set the bull when you don’t have enough butt to set it with.”
With an offensive line guru like Pittman in charge and a reshaped body, there is quite a bit of hype surrounding Cunningham going into 2020.
In fact, Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy - a former NFL scout - said he could be a fast riser in next spring’s NFL Draft with a solid senior year. Unsurprisingly, he has since been named to the Senior Bowl’s Top 250 watch list.
Still, there are things the 6-foot-7 lineman needs to improve under Pittman and offensive line coach Brad Davis this season if he’s going to become a true NFL prospect.
“Just really working on my techniques and fundamentals,” Cunningham said. “Just trying to master the small things, the tiny things that can hurt you when it comes to game time.”
The Razorbacks are only a few practices into camp and the season is about a month away, but so far the early reviews of Cunningham have been positive.
When asked about offensive linemen who have stood out to him last week, running back Rakeem Boyd mentioned Cunningham, as well as true freshman Jalen St. John.
Now that Arkansas’ defensive scheme involves the defensive ends flipping sides in various scenarios, Dorian Gerald said he’s gone head-to-head with Cunningham in practice for the first time.
“Myron definitely stands out to me,” Gerald said. “I never got the opportunity to go against Myron last year. Myron’s a standout to me in my eyes. I think he’s a big anchor on the offensive line.”
Most of the offensive line is in flux this preseason, with position battles at four of the five spots. The lone spot locked in right now is Cunningham at left tackle.
Stronger and bigger than ever before, he is entering the 2020 season with high hopes for his senior year.
“My confidence is high,” Cunningham said. “I mean, I had a good year last year. I put on weight to help me have a better year this year. My expectations are high, my confidence is high. I’ve got nothing to lose.”