Gorman senior puts emphasis on track; football still possible

Randall Cunningham II always has loved the University of Southern California.

On Friday afternoon, the senior two-sport standout at Bishop Gorman made an oral commitment to his dream school, choosing the Trojans over numerous scholarship offers.

Except the son of the former UNLV and NFL quarterback didn’t commit to play for USC’s football team. Instead, Cunningham, one of the nation’s top high jumpers, will be a member of the Trojans’ track and field team.

Cunningham’s commitment is nonbinding, and the first day he can sign a letter of intent is Feb. 5. USC’s coaches cannot comment until that time.

Cunningham first announced his decision on Twitter, posting a USC logo with the caption, “OFFICIAL #fighton.”

“It’s always been my favorite school since I was little,” Cunningham said. “When I took my visit I felt like it was the right place for me. My uncle (Sam Cunningham) went to USC, and my dad grew up in California and was looking at playing football there.”

The 6-foot-5-inch, 184-pound Cunningham was Gorman’s starting quarterback and led the Gaels to their fifth straight state football title last month. He is rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com but decided to dedicate himself to high jumping.

That’s not to say he’s giving up on football. Cunningham expressed interested in playing at USC but hasn’t heard from the new coaching staff. In the fall, he briefly was looked at by offensive coordinator Clay Helton, who remained on the Trojans’ staff after Steve Sarkisian was hired Dec. 2.

Cunningham acknowledged he plans on reaching out to the USC football staff but said it most likely won’t happen until after Gorman’s track season.

If he’s not given the opportunity to play both sports, Cunningham said he’d be fine with it.

“I’d definitely miss (football), but at that point there’s nothing I could do about it,” Cunningham said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to talk to them soon, but I don’t have a time line yet.”

Cunningham broke the Nevada state record as a junior by clearing 7 feet, 3¼ inches to win the Division I state high jump title. The mark was No. 1 in the U.S., according to athletic.net, and he was named the 2013 Gatorade Nevada Boys Track &Field Athlete of the Year.

In football, Cunningham was named first-team all-state as a senior after passing for 1,773 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and rushing for 1,401 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first year as a starter.

“Randall is as good an athlete as they come,” said Gorman track and field coach Scott Cooley, also an assistant football coach. “He’s so long and can get up to speed in no time. He proved it this year in the state football game of how tough he is. He wanted the ball. He wasn’t sliding; he was going for extra yards. He was trying to win a state championship.

“… He’s always handled it in the classroom and now in the field. ... He’s as good a young man as they come. I have a ton of respect for that kid. He’s a great kid to work with, he leads all the kids around him, and he’s respected by everyone. I don’t think you’ll find a teacher in the school that has bad things to say about him.”

Baylor was the first school last year to offer Cunningham a scholarship, followed by Louisiana State, Arizona State and Utah, among others. All those schools told him he could play both sports.

“It was tough, but at the end of the day, USC is great in both programs,” Cunningham said.

Contact reporter Ashton Ferguson at aferguson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0430. Follow af_ferguson on Twitter.