If there is one thing that might worry the Rutgers Scarlet Knights football team when they face off against the Howard Bison on Saturday afternoon, it is Jamie Cunningham.
The 6’4", 205-pound freshman quarterback came practically out of nowhere last week to engineer the Bison’s come-from-behind 30-29 victory over Morehouse College in the Second Annual AT&T Nation’s Football Classic.
Cunningham came into the game, the first of his collegiate career, off the bench for Howard, after starting quarterback Randy Liggins, Jr. was removed from the game for losing his composure after a third quarter Bison turnover.
For most college freshman, going into a game late in regulation would be intimidating enough. Cunningham rallied his team twice.
After driving 89 yards down the field, the Bison gave up the lead again on the ensuing Morehouse possession, forcing Cunningham was forced to rally the team once again; this time with less than two minutes and no timeouts remaining.
He did it and the fact that he did it not only made him the game’s MVP but helped him in being named this week’s Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week. He’s also, now, one of the biggest threats the Bison have in this week’s matchup with Rutgers.
It’s an offensive weapon that hasn’t gone unnoted by the Scarlet Knights.
"They do a lot of things on offense," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said in a press conference earlier this week. "They're coming off a great win with a freshman quarterback. It'll be a good challenge for our football team."
With some experience under his belt, Cunningham has the opportunity to map out an entire game instead of just the final dregs of a fourth quarter rally. If his performance in last Saturday’s game was any indication though, the kid knows how to play football.
"This gave us an opportunity to see what would happen when we are under adversity. I mean when we get to see Jamie Cunningham play outside of practice, we did not know what to expect," Howard coach Gary Harrell said after Saturday’s victory. "We threw him into the fire and he showed that he could handle it."
The Bison will, in all likelihood, give Cunningham his first collegiate start against Rutgers on Saturday afternoon, throwing him from one metaphorical fire straight into another.
The freshman will, however, have a little extra help this time.
Howard’s All-America linebacker Keith Pough, who did not play in last week’s victory over Morehouse State, is scheduled to return to the field after dealing with early-season injuries.
- Check back here on Saturday morning for a final outlook before the Scarlet Knights open their season at home.