The Record Breaker at Wide Receiver U
When you take a look at receiving records at Michigan State, it's no wonder MSU is known as Wide Receiver U. You see names like Andre Rison, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason, and College Football Hall of Famer, Gene Washington.
While those famous Spartan and NFL stars dot the MSU record book, senior B.J. Cunningham is just ten catches away from passing every single one of them.
"When you make that statement and think about the wide receivers that have played here and gone on to play in the NFL," said 5th year Head Coach Mark Dantonio, "that is a big, big statement. So take it for what it's worth, but for everybody out there that wants to be a great wideout, that is a good place to come"
The feat is made more amazing when you consider that Cunningham came from basketball roots. He was a three year starter at Westerville South in Ohio and was the 2005-06 Ohio Capital Conference player of the year.
In fact, he didn't strap on a football helmet for the first time until his sophomore year in High School for the Junior Varsity...and he didn't even play receiver until his junior season. But it's those same skills he learned on the hardwood that B.J. credits for the overall success he's had in such a short time on the gridiron.
"Basketball relates to receiver when you go up to get the ball," said Cunningham. Going to get a rebound. Going to dunk on somebody. I used to that in high school. So when I got here, going up to get the ball was nothing. I had to learn about the game."
Because B.J. was such a raw talent when he came to Michigan State, he redshirted his true freshman season and spent valuable time on the scout team with another freshman...Quarterback Kirk Cousins.
"Back when we were on the scout team back in the fall of 2007, you could see it," said 3-time captain Cousins. "He was a guy who probably didn't need to redshirt that year. But he did redshirt. He was making plays left and right on the scout team. We knew what we had going forward for the next four years."
What they have in Cunningham is a receiver that has brought great consistency, averaging 46 catches per year his first 3 seasons - en route to 139 total grabs. And he simply needs ten more to become MSU's all-time leading receiver.
"Probably until it happens it won't hit me. But honestly, I still forget about it," Cunningham chuckles. "It's always in the back of your head, but you're not thinking about it. I feel like when it happens, I'll be like, ‘Oh man, this is bigger than I thought it was.'
And maybe when he finally breaks the record, folks will start giving the Spartan star some more recognition...something that his fellow classmate and Quarterback believes he deserves...
"Across the country, there are other receivers who get more attention," Kirk states. "But when you look at the numbers, and the amount of plays he's made, and the consistency he's had, I think he's as good as anyone in the country."
"I think he's going to take off even more this year and have an even greater season."
National notoriety would be nice for Cunningham, but simply becoming the all-time leader in receptions at Wide Receiver U is enough for the Westerville, Ohio native.
And when B.J. breaks the record, he envisions basking in the glow - with who other, than his fellow receivers.
"They are going to celebrate with me...they can't wait. It's going to be fun."
B.J. BY THE NUMBERS
2008 - 41 rec./525 yds/0 TD
2009 - 48 rec./641 yds/4 TD
2010 - 50 rec./611 yds/9 TD
Games Started: 29
Career Games Played: 37
Longest Play: 73 yards (at Purdue in 2009)
Career Yards Per Catch Average: 12.8
IN THE RECORD BOOKS
1. Matt Trannon - 148 (2003-06)
2. Andre Rison - 146 (1985-88)
3. B.J. Cunningham - (2008-Present)
4. Courtney Hawkins - 138 (1988-91)
5. Charles Rogers - 135 (2001-02)
Touchdown Receptions (Career)
1. Charles Rogers - 27 (2001-02)
2. Kirk Gibson - 24 (1975-78)
3. Plaxico Burress - 20 (1998-99)
Andre Rison - 20 (1985-88)
4. Gari Scott - 18 (1996-99)
10. B.J. Cunningham - 13 (2008-Present)
Receiving Yards (Career)
1. Andre Rison - 2,992 (1985-88)
2. Charles Rogers - 2,821 (2001-02)
3. Kirk Gibson - 2,347 (1975-78)
4. Courtney Hawkins - 2,210 ((1988-91)
5. Plaxico Burress - 2,155 (1998-99)
13. B.J. Cunningham - 1,780 (2008-Present)
Touchdown Receptions (Season)
1. Charles Rogers - 14 (2001)
2. Charles Rogers - 13 (2002)
3. Plaxico Burress - 12 (1999)
4. B.J. Cunningham - 9 (2010)
Blair White - 9 (2009)