Sam 'Bam' Cunningham was one of the greatest Trojans to wear the cardinal and gold. His memorable debut against Alabama in 1970 when he rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries may have helped desegregate college football in the South. The imposing fullback with a 6'3", 225-pound frame eventually earned a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame.
But Sam wasn't the only notable Cunningham. His brothers also played on the gridiron. Anthony played linebacker at Boise State. Bruce played defensive back at UNLV. And then there was Randall, who left his name littered throughout the UNLV record book before taking his talents to the NFL where he played 16 seasons, starring most notably for the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings.
Randall wasn't just a tremendous quarterback. He also still owns UNLV's single season and career punting average records. In high school, Randall was also a standout high jumper, claiming a personal best of 6-foot-9.
Now his eldest son, Randall II, is following in his footsteps.
A senior at Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, Randall II is a tremendous two-sport athlete with Olympic aspirations in the high jump. He had the top high school mark in the United States last year when he broke the Nevada state record clearing 7 feet, 3.25 inches to win the state title. He earned the distinction of 2013 Gatorade Nevada Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
Randall II may be most talented in track and it is in track that he committed to USC on Friday, making his announcement via Twitter:
While he has Olympic potential in the high jump (and he also long jumps), the younger Cunningham is also a dual-threat quarterback much like his father. After sitting behind Arizona's Anu Solomon, a four-year starter that threw for more than 10,000 yards and 138 touchdowns while leading Bishop Gorman to four titles, Randall II took over the starter role this year and continued the Gaels' dominance.
The 6'5", 178-pounder passed for 1,773 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for another 1,401 yards and 14 touchdowns as he led Bishop Gorman to its fifth straight state title. He is rated as a three-star dual-threat quarterback and though he doesn't have a formal offer from the USC coaching staff, Cunningham II told reporters that he would reach out and see if there was an opportunity for him.
Offensive coordinator Clay Helton had previously recruited him, but Randall II said he hadn't spoken with the new coaching staff.
Interestingly, Randall II grades out at the same star ranking, but better by position rank than Steve Sarkisian's most recent quarterback, Keith Price. Price was also a three-star dual-threat quarterback prospect when he was a senior at St. John Bosco High (Bellflower, Calif.), but received a 75 overall scout grade from ESPN and 120th at his position while Randall II is the 24th best dual-threat QB with a 77 scout grade. Rivals has Cunningham II as the 14th best at his position while Price was 33rd.
Due to NCAA bylaws in reference to multi-sport athletes, it will be interesting to see if the football staff is actually interested but purposely trying to distance itself from Cunningham II at this time. According to the rulebook, for dual-sport athletes, if the player is not a "recruited" football player and isn't offered financial aid by the football program, he can walk-on and be counted as a track athlete.
However, if Randall II were to play in a football game in his first two years on campus, he would have to be counted toward USC's football scholarship limit. Per NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199, after two years, he would be free to compete in football games and still be counted toward the track scholarship limit rather than football as long as he was still actively competing for the track team.
With him being a three-star prospect behind Cody Kessler, Max Wittek and Max Browne, the odds are slim that there would be any need for him at the quarterback position in his first two years on campus. However, if he were to change positions and possibly be put at receiver, maybe the two-year window would give him an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the position and be a contributor as a redshirt sophomore or junior.
SIDE NOTE: Little sister, Vashti Cunningham, also could be a USC track target in a couple years. The Bishop Gorman High sophomore is one of the top female high jumpers in the country for her age. She posted the nation's third best high school mark last year by clearing more than 6 feet and was the only freshman in the top 10.
HIGHLIGHTS: Here's a short clip of Randall II playing for Bishop Gorman in a 42-9 win over Crespi High (Encino, Calif.) this year. You can really tell he's his father's son starting at the 1:05 mark: