Randall Cunningham Jr. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY)
Randall Cunningham’s son appears to be his remake, a solid passer and very good runner as he quarterbacks one of the better teams in the country.
Randall Cunningham was always one of the flashiest and most gifted athletes on the field. Whether he was scrambling, running the ball or firing it downfield, he provided plenty of thrills during an All-American career at UNLV and 16 years in the NFL, including three (1997-99) with the Minnesota Vikings.
Now it’s his son’s turn.
Randall Cunningham Jr. is a high school senior at Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman whose on-field abilities recall his father’s exploits. The 6-foot-5, 185-pound quarterback’s athleticism has helped him make headlines on the gridiron, as well as in track and field.
Cunningham has led Bishop Gorman to four straight wins since it opened the 2013 season with a nationally televised 28-21 loss at home to Phoenix’s Mountain Pointe in the Sollenberger Classic.
This is Cunningham’s first season as the Gaels’ full-time starter, and while his passing numbers are average — he’s completed 49 of 90 for 690 yards and six touchdowns — he’s the team’s leading rusher, gaining 449 yards and two touchdowns on 74 carries.
“I feel like I’m at a good point right now; I feel confident with everything that’s going on with the offense, the coaching staff, the team. I feel confident in them,” Cunningham said.
The biggest test for Cunningham and came Friday night in a 28-12 loss to Miami’s Booker T. Washington, considered by many the nation’s No. 1 team, in a game at Fertitta Field 12 miles from the Strip that was televised on ESPNU.
Cunningham has had big performances for the Gaels, including in the second game of the season, in which he accounted for 308 yards of offense and two touchdowns (one passing and one rushing) in a 41-17 win over California-powerhouse Servite. He threw for 193 yards and ran for 115.
Two weeks ago, Bishop Gorman traveled to Oradell, N.J., and knocked off highly regarded Bergen Catholic, 20-17, in a come-from-behind win during which Cunningham led the Gaels on the winning drive with less than a minute left in the game.
It’s that type of poise and maturity that has impressed so many, including his father.
“He’s compared to me, but he takes the pressure and is like, ‘That’s my dad and I’m honored to have a dad who was successful that people can compare to me,’” the elder Cunningham said. “He’s not supposed to be me. As a matter of fact, he’s way better than I was when I was a kid. He’s faster than I was, he’s bigger than I was, he’s smarter, he has more knowledge of the game than most people could even realize because I taught him so much and he’s been around the NFL.”
Despite the comparisons, the younger Cunningham said he no longer worries about living up to others’ expectations, or filling his father’s shoes.
“There’s going to be pressure about living up to the name of Cunningham, but I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I’ve grown a little bit out of it,” he said. “There’s still pressure according to other people, but to me I don’t really feel it as much just because I’m 17 years old and I’ve had Cunningham as my last name forever. It’s really just a matter of me being me and living up to my expectations to myself.”
Cunningham wants to attend a college that will allow him to play football and compete in track.
As a junior, he was named the Gatorade Nevada Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year after clearing a state-record 7 feet, 3¼ inches to win the Division I high jump title in Nevada.
He has several college offers — with interest coming from Baylor, LSU, Arizona State and Kansas State — and is not shy about wanting to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics and play in the NFL.
“I think about the draft, I think about the 2016 Olympics; both are something I’ve dreamed about,” Cunningham said. “I would like to do both as long as I can and whichever one can take me farther, I’ll make the decision.”
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