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Penn State Football Recruiting

Penn State ‘Definitely a Front Runner’ for 4-Star ’24 DL T.A. Cunningham

Photo by T.A. Cunningham’s Twitter

Penn State football doesn’t have an interior defensive lineman committed to its 2024 Class yet.

But right now, James Franklin’s program appears to be the front runner for T.A. Cunningham.

Cubningham went on his Penn State official visit the weekend of June 16, and loved it.

“My visit went great,” Cunningham told Nittany Sports Now via direct message. “I had a lot of fun in Happy Valley.”

After that visit, Penn State insider Tyler Calvaruso of 247Sports placed a Crystal Ball projection for Cunningham to commit to Penn State. Cunningham has been on the school’s radar for a while. PSU offered him in August 2021 ahead of his sophomore season.

John Scott Jr. was Penn State’s defensive line coach at that time. Now, Scott’s gone, having taken a job with the Detroit Lions in late February.

But a big reason Penn State is still very much in play for Cunningham is the relationship he’s built with the school’s new DL coach, Deion Barnes.

“Ever since Coach Scott left for the NFL, I’ve been forming a relationship with Coach Barnes,” he said. “After visiting twice and getting to spend time with him, we’re definitely closer than ever.”

Penn State’s head coach, Franklin, was one of the first to be in contact with Cunningham, and that isn’t lost on the senior-to-be, who also cited Franklin’s 10-year contract extension that he signed in November 2021 as an encouraging sign for the program’s future.

“Coach Franklin was one of the earliest coaches to have interest in my recruitment,” Cunningham said, “and has stayed very consistent. He’s a great coach, and I love knowing that he’ll be around Penn State for a while.”

Cunningham also has offers from schools such as Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Boston College, Cal, Cincinnati, Colorado, Duke, Florida, Florida State; Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, LSU, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan State, Miami, NC State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oregon State, Pitt, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, TCU and Texas.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder is an Under-Armour All-American.

247Sports’s composite rankings have Cunningham as the No. 27 defensive tackle, the No. 217 overall ‘24 player in the country and the No. 34 overall player in Florida.

He’ll be playing his senior season at Miami Central, but he’s played for three different high schools in each of his first three years. He spent his freshman season at Lilburn, Georgia’s Providence Christian Academy.

The next season, he played at Georgia’s John’s Creek High School, picking up seven sacks, 22 tackles for loss and 66 total tackles.

Last year, he moved to California and played at Los Alamitos High School. Cunningham had to sit out the season’s first five games due to being ruled ineligible by the CIF. He ended up playing and picking up 17 tackles.

Now, he’ll be playing in Miami, which he announced in April.

There’s a lot to like about Cunningham’s game, and he likes to watch a defensive lineman who used to terrorize Penn State, Ohio State’s Chase Young.

So what does Cunningham feel he does best as a player?

“I feel my biggest strength is my aggression coming off the ball,” Cunningham said. “I like to play physically.”

Cunningham doesn’t have a commitment date set at the moment, but right now, Penn State’s chances look good.

“Penn State is definitely a front runner for me right now,” he said.

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