Lighter Cunningham ready for bigger season
OXFORD -- For Jalen Cunningham, weight has always been an issue.
The Ole Miss offensive guard topped out at 388 pounds, a load that proved too much to carry effectively in the Southeastern Conference.
He's down to 330 now, and the loss of almost 60 pounds has paid dividends.
"Since my freshman year, I've been trying to lose a whole bunch of weight," Cunningham said. "It's been a good little trial I've been taking. Losing weight has been helpful, real helpful. I'm running more plays faster and (with fluidity). I can use my speed and my power and everything. It's been great."
Cunningham. a sophomore from Odenville, Ala., said he's never had a problem with food.
"I'm not a picky eater," Cunningham said. "I like eating vegetables and fruits and stuff. So it wasn't too bad. It was more conditioning-wise."
Cunningham said he could only play 3-4 plays at a time last season, and that limited his role in the 10 games he played in. A year later, Cunningham is absolutely vital to the Rebels' offense, and he's preparing with that in mind.
"Now I'm doing 7-8 plays, almost 10," Cunningham said. "I'm trying to lose some more weight. My goal is 325 so I'm on a good path right now."
Cunningham said he is competing with Reece McIntyre and Sam Plash for playing time at guard, but he's likely the odds-on favorite to win a starting spot on what should be a solid Ole Miss offensive line.
"I'd say we're on a good path right now," Cunningham said. "We need to communicate more and play more as a unit and if we do that, we can be a good team."