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Zach Cunningham named first-team All-American

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Cunningham is the first Vanderbilt athlete since 1958 to earn first-team AP honors.

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Cunningham’s illustrious career at Vanderbilt earned two more accolades on Monday. The junior linebacker was named a first-team All-American by both the Associated Press and ESPN.

Cunningham is the first Commodore to ever earn ESPN’s honor. He’s the first Vanderbilt non-special teamer to be named to the AP’s first team since George Diederich in 1958.

Cunningham led the SEC with 119 total tackles this fall. His diving stop of Isaiah McKenzie on fourth-and-1 preserved a 17-16 upset win on the road against Georgia midway through the season. Three weeks later, he gave the ‘Dores a chance to upset Auburn with an insane blocked field goal that displayed his other-worldly athleticism.

The junior was instrumental in pushing Vanderbilt towards its first postseason berth since 2013. Though he has one year of NCAA eligibility remaining, it’s unlikely he’ll return to Nashville for one last spin with the Commodores. He’s currently projected to be a first-round draft pick after his breakout 2016.