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FAU wide receiver Marcus Cunnigham caught his first career touchdown on Saturday. (Owl Access photo)

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Cunningham catching on

FAU redshirt freshman wide receiver Marcus Cunningham had a breakthrough game vs. FIU and is hoping to keep better in the final three games of the season.

Originally published on 11/16/2011

by Alyssa Barbieri

BOCA RATON – Last season Florida Atlantic redshirt freshman receiver Marcus Cunningham spent a great deal of time after practices with former Owls receiver Lestar Jean working to perfect his game and work ethic.

That effort of learning from Jean, now on injured reserve with the Houston Texans, is finally starting to pay off.

After suffering a sprained MCL vs. Western Kentucky, which held him out of FAU's losses against Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State, Cunningham led FAU receivers with six receptions for 76 yards in Saturday's 41-7 loss to FIU.

Cunningham also scored his first career touchdown, a 22-yard catch-and-run from quarterback Graham Wilbert. It was the only points of the game for the Owls.

“It was a dream come true,” he said. “It was a weight lifted off my shoulders. I was always wondering when I was going to score my first touchdown. I finally got the opportunity and did what I had to score.”

It was a slow start to the season for Cunningham, but he said that he is finally adjusting to the speed of the game with some guidance from offensive coordinator and receivers coach Darryl Jackson.

“It's slowing down a lot,” Cunningham said. “When I first got out there it was like 'I don't really know where I'm at right now.' (Jackson) told me just to be calm and keep working; it's going to come to me. And it finally has.”

Cunningham finds himself in a veteran-like role as a redshirt freshman among a talented group of true
freshman, including William Dukes and Derek Moise.

“I'm still young but since I've been here a year before the other guys I kind of know how things go,” he said. “I try to tell them to go and just to be calm and go out there and play.”

FAU is the lone team in the college football nation that has yet to win a game this season. Going up against a struggling team in Troy (2-7, 1-4 Sun Belt) should pose a good match-up for the Owls, but Cunningham said that every match-up is a favorable one.

“In my eyes the games that we lost we should have won,” Cunningham said. “I favor us in every game we play. That's how much confidence I have in us.”

Jackson is pleased with how far Cunningham, and the rest of his young group of receivers, has come
from the start of the season to now.

“The more reps they play the better they get and the game slows down for them,” he said. “They came in early during the summer and worked out very hard, which is a good thing, and trying to get on the same page as our quarterbacks. Now that they're getting closer to getting on the same page, they're starting to see that heir hard work is paying off for them in the last few games.”

Wednesday's Practice Browser: Compiled by Marcus Nelson

  • Making plays: CB Keith Reaser made some noise during field goal drills when he blocked a kick and returned it all the way back.
  • Stepping up: After losing his starting job to Brentley Harstad for the Arkansas State game, S Demetrius Williamson has settled back in after Harstad hurt his shoulder and started in last week's loss to FIU.
  • What they are working on: The Owls are concerned with Troy's defensive line and have spent plenty of time in practice making sure the offensive line knows their responsibilities.
  • Up Next: The Owls will return to the practice field on Thursday for their last workout before facing Troy on Saturday.
     

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