Prep football: South Charleston’s Cunningham commits to Charlotte

Another Kanawha Valley student-athlete will continue his academic and athletic career in North Carolina after high school.

South Charleston football coach Donnie Mays said Wednesday that Black Eagle junior A.D. Cunningham has given a verbal commitment to play at Charlotte.

“They want him as an outside linebacker,” said Mays, who completed his first season as SC’s coach in November.

“They said they like his field vision as a running back, too, but first off they want to try him at outside linebacker,” Mays said.

If Cunningham (6-foot, 210 pounds) stays at his recruited position, it could give the 49ers’ linebacking corps a decidedly Kanawha Valley complexion. George Washington graduate Dustin Crouser is a freshman at the school, and was recruited as a middle linebacker.

South Charleston graduate Pierria Henry is a junior at Charlotte and a standout for the school’s basketball team. The 49ers joined Conference USA a year ago, and will enter the league as a football program beginning in 2015.

Cunningham was a second team Class AAA All-State selection at linebacker in his junior season. While the core of the Black Eagle defense, Cunningham also led SC in rushing, running for 1,042 yards and 11 touchdowns in 159 carries. He was the first SC running back to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in a season since Aaron Slusher did so in 2008.

“He’s a great kid and a great leader, on and off the field,” Mays said. “He makes good decisions. I think it’ll be really cool to see him and Dustin Crouser down there playing together.”

Mays noted that Cunningham’s maturity is also playing a key role in SC’s offseason workouts. The Black Eagles also return sophomore quarterback Kentre Grier (6-3, 160) – another second team All-State pick – to the fold for the 2014 season.

“They’ve been together as any group we’ve had since ’08 or ’09, and A.D.’s had a lot to do with that,” Mays said.

The 49ers have taken a keen interest in recruiting West Virginia players since starting their program and grooming it to join the FBS ranks. Charlotte successfully landed 2012 Hunt Award winner Eugene German from Martinsburg, along with defensive end Payton Thomson, a Greenbrier East graduate. Huntington High graduate C.J. Crawford transferred to Charlotte after leaving Marshall following the 2012 season.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.

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