2012 NFL Draft Update: Cunningham Selected By Miami in Sixth Round
April 28, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State senior wide receiver B.J. Cunningham, the school's all-time leader in receptions (218) and receiving yards (3,086), has been selected by the Miami Dolphins in the sixth round (No. 183 overall) of the 2012 National Football League Draft Saturday, April 28.
As a fifth-year senior in 2011, Cunningham led the Spartans in receptions (tied MSU single-season record with 79), receiving yards (1,306), TD receptions (12) and 20-yard receptions (21). Fifty-five of his career-high 79 receptions (70 percent) resulted in either a touchdown or a first down. His 12 TD receptions (tied for third) and 1,306 receiving yards (third) also ranked among the Top 10 single-season totals in MSU history. He set a school single-season record with eight 100-yard receiving games.
A second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media, Cunningham finished among the conference leaders in TD receptions (tied for first), receiving yards (third at 93.3 per game) and receptions (fourth at 5.6 per game). In addition, he ranked 17th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in receiving yards.
"I'm so excited that I can't wait to get to work," Cunningham said. "The first phone call I got all day came from Miami. I had limited contact with the Dolphins before the draft. In fact, Miami took Keshawn Martin and me out to eat the night before our pro day on campus last month.
"I had an opportunity to talk to (General Manager) Jeff Ireland, (head coach) Joe Philbin and (wide receivers coach) Ken O'Keefe, and they said that they really like my consistency and the fact that I get better each year throughout my career. They also like my physical play and my ability to go across the middle and make plays.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to go in and compete for a spot in the playing rotation right away."
"B.J. Cunningham had a remarkable college career, becoming Michigan State's all-time leading receiver," MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. "He's a physical receiver, with great hands. B.J. makes all the catches - every single one of them. He has great jumping ability, so when the ball is thrown his way, he will go up and catch it at its highest point. B.J. is a consistent playmaker because of his ability to run and gain yards after the catch. In addition, he's a very physical blocker at the point of attack. Most importantly, his work ethic is unmatched. Whether it's winter conditioning, practice or a game, B.J. consistently plays to the best of his ability.
"His sheer physical ability reminds me of former Spartan receiver Muhsin Muhammad, who excelled in the league for 14 years. I believe B.J. will have an outstanding career in the NFL."
With seven catches for 66 yards in MSU's 33-30 triple-overtime win over Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl, Cunningham tied the school single-season record for receptions with 79 (Devin Thomas, 2007).
He became MSU's all-time leader in receiving yards during the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin with his 44-yard TD reception in the third quarter, passing Andre Rison, who previously held the record with 2,992 receiving yards. Cunningham recorded his eighth 100-yard receiving game of the season with 115 yards on five catches, establishing a school record. Cunningham recorded a career-high three TDs against the Badgers: he scored his first TD on a 30-yard pass from Cousins on fourth-and-inches on the first play of the second quarter, cutting the Badger lead to 21-14; for his second TD, he caught a lateral from Nichol at the 7-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown; his third touchdown, a 44-yarder, arrived on a third-and-6 play with 1:41 left in the third quarter. In five career games against Wisconsin, Cunningham had 22 catches for 309 yards and six touchdowns.
Cunningham had six catches for 120 yards, including TD receptions of 33 and 29 yards from Kirk Cousins, in the Spartans' 31-17 victory at Northwestern. He had six receptions for 132 yards and two TDs in MSU's 55-3 victory over Indiana on Senior Day. Cunningham caught three passes for 104 yards in MSU's 31-24 win over Minnesota, including a season-long 69-yard reception from Cousins in the first quarter helped set up the Spartans' first touchdown. He had six receptions for 102 yards in MSU's 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin, including a 35-yard TD grab from Cousins in the second quarter.
Cunningham had nine receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown in MSU's 10-7 victory at Ohio State, as the Spartans ended a seven-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and recorded their first win in Columbus since 1998. He scored on a 33-yard strike from Cousins to give MSU a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. His 154 receiving yards are the most ever by a Spartan against Ohio State (previous record: 135 receiving yards by Frank Foreman, 1969).
Cunningham recorded career highs in receptions (12) and receiving yards (158) at Notre Dame. His 12 catches tied for fourth most in a game by a Spartan wide receiver (record: 14 by Matt Trannon vs. Eastern Michigan in 2006). His 158 receiving yards were the most since Blair White had 186 yards against Northwestern in 2009, and the second most for a Spartan wide receiver against Notre Dame (Charles Rogers, 175 yards in 2002). It marked his second-career 100-yard receiving game against the Irish (seven receptions for 101 yards vs. Notre Dame in 2010). In four career games against Notre Dame, Cunningham had 26 receptions for 361 yards and one TD.
The Westerville, Ohio, native caught nine passes for 130 yards in the 2011 season opener against Youngstown State, as he tied Trannon's (2003-06) record for career receptions with 148. His 18-yard TD catch from Cousins late in the third quarter gave MSU a 21-6 lead.
The 6-1, 211-pound Cunningham also is listed among MSU's career leaders in TD receptions (second with 25) and 100-yard receiving games (third with 10). He closed out his career ranked among the Big Ten's all-time leaders in receptions (seventh) and receiving yards (ninth).
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