East Webster's Austin Cunningham, seated, signs with Millsaps College as father Glen Cunnigham, standing fom left, Wolverines coach Doug Wilson, and mother Tracy Cunningham lend their support. (Photo by Beth Hendrix, For Starkville Daily News)
MATHISTON â€“ The love for the game of football is what motivates Austin Cunningham.
That's what made him successful at East Webster High School and it has given him an opportunity to play at the next level with Millsaps College.
Cunningham celebrated his signing with fellow Wolverines, coaches, friends and family Friday morning during a reception at the school library.
"We're always proud to see East Webster students go to the next level," East Webster football coach Doug Wilson said. "Whether it's junior college, Division I, Division II or Division III, it doesn't matter because it's a big step academically and physically."
The move to Millsaps is very satisfying and comfortable for Cunningham.
Even though Mississippi College was also an option for Cunningham, he believed Millsaps was the best fit for him.
"It means that not only do I get the chance to play football, but I get to further my education at a good college," Cunningham said. "I've gotten to know the coaches. It's been a great experience going down there for a visit and getting to know the athletes and the coaches.
"It's going to be good to play for an organization that had a winning season and won the conference championship four times in the last few years."
Cunningham gained experience at several different positions for the Wolverines over the years.
The work ethic is something that Wilson respects about Cunningham.
"We're very proud of Austin," Wilson said. "He wasn't locked in on any one position, so that made it even harder to get an opportunity to go play somewhere else.
"He loves football. He likes working out in the weight room. On Friday nights, he was always excited and ready to play."
Cunningham enjoyed his time at East Webster. He's going to miss playing for the Wolverines and being taught by Wilson.
"Coach Doug has been one of the best coaches I've ever seen over my high school career," Cunningham said. "Coach Doug put us together as a team and not individuals.
"It has been so much fun. If I could go back and do one more year of it, I would. It's the best."
As much as Cunningham would like to continue the high school experience, later this year, he will need to take the next step.
The plan is for Millsaps to use Cunningham at defensive end with a possible role at tight end in the plans as well.
"I'm going to work hard, get after it this summer and get ready for the fall," Cunningham said.
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