By David Knox, Sports Editor
HOOVER – Former Pinson Valley standout Zach Cunningham of Vanderbilt was selected for the preseason All-Southeastern Conference second team by media members attending the SEC Media Days last week.
He also collected another nomination to add to his wealth of individual honors when he was named to the watch list for the Butkus Award, which is presented to the nation’s top linebacker. Cunningham, a redshirt junior, added that to his nominations for the Bednarik Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, each which go the country’s top defensive player. The Bednarik Award is given by the Maxwell Football Club and the Nagurski Trophy is selected by the members of the Football Writers Association of America and presented by the Charlotte Touchdown Club with the FWAA.
Cunningham was a consensus First Team All-SEC recipient last season when he ranked among conference leaders with 69 solo tackles, 103 total tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles.
Cunningham is among a trio of local players at Vandy. Redshirt junior DeAndre Woods from Clay-Chalkville hopes to shake off the injury bug that sidelined him after three games in 2015. He had seven catches for 129 yards, including a long of 43, in 2015. And Hewitt-Trussville grad Bailey McElwain last week announced he would attend Vandy this year instead of going to prep school in Illinois in preparation for a career at Stanford. McElwain is in line to play right away at fullback as a freshman for the Commodores.