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July 28, 2013

Sooners Ready to Clear the Air With Elite DE




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Over the last few weeks Oklahoma has seen a few of its targets along the defensive line come off the board having committed to other programs. Defensive end Grant Blankenship committed to Notre Dame and defensive end/defensive tackle Josh Malin committed to Baylor just a few days ago.

In spite of that there are still a handful of defensive lineman left that are uncommitted and entertaining the idea of getting serious about the Sooners. Recently, four-star defensive end, Qualen Cunningham of Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton is still on the board and has been talking about trying to take a visit to Norman before his senior year. Turns out that plan has hit a bit of a snag due to lack of communication with the 6-foot-3 and 220-pound prospect and the Oklahoma staff leaving that visit in limbo at this point.

"I wish it was something that was more still in the works at the moment," Cunningham said about his plan to visit Oklahoma during this summer. "I haven't been talking to a lot of the OU coaches lately as much as I should be. I'm not sure if the recruiting part of it is still there. It's definitely a school that I'm interested in but I haven't talked to coach (Jerry) Montgomery and coach (Tim) Kish in a couple of weeks now. I'm still trying to work on it and still trying to see if I'm still going to pursue OU and if they are still going to pursue me. I'm still working with it and still trying to figure all that out."

With the dead period coming to an end this week, the issue may be cleared up if Montgomery and Cunningham get back in touch in the near future.

"I would say that," he replied when asked if Oklahoma were to regain contact would they still be in contention for him and would he look to officially visit. "Coach Montgomery is a cool dude. If they regain contact with me, if I made a visit down there I figure that my interest would be sparked more. I haven't been to the campus yet but I'm interested to see the campus and see what Oklahoma is like. If it came down to it and they started recruiting me again I think it would be a good fit."

This summer, Cunningham took part in the Rivals 5-Star Challenge in Chicago, Ill. and recently traveled to USC and Washington to take part in their camps as well.

"I just came back down from USC and Washington and those were some ok experiences. I would say I had a better time more at USC than Washington. You know how it goes, both camps were good experiences. I'm glad I got the experience out of both of them," he responded.

One thing that Cunningham has made a point of emphasis to help get him ready is to ask people that he knows that are college football players currently about what he needs to do to prepare his body to be ready for the next level.

"I have been talking to a lot of guys that are already in college and I know one day I'm going to be there also. I've just been kind of asking them 'what's the best way that I can get my body prepared for the college level and they told me squats. Get my squats up and my lower back, especially playing on the defensive side of the ball.

"My squat has gone up about 45-pounds since the spring. My lower back and all that stuff, I have been working my explosion. I feel that my explosion and quickness have always been some of my better attributes with my play style. Just getting better with the things I already have and getting more used to my body getting acclimated with everything," he explained.

Cunningham says he is currently squatting 450-pounds but hopes to get that up to 500-pounds by the end of this year. Moving forward, the Nation's No. 86 overall prospect say he is looking to start winding down and cutting his list so he can build better relationships with the coaches at the schools he is really considering.

Some of the key things he will be looking for in a program will be his relationship with not only his position coach but also the strength and conditioning coach as well.

"I have to be able to wake up with a smile on face every day," Cunningham began. "It's going to be me going to college, it's not going to be anyone else in my family. It's going to be me making the decision. To answer your question I figure if I have a good relationship with my coaches and the players and just kind of the location of where I'm at. I don't want to be too far away from the family or anything. I want to be able to like my strength and conditioning coach and my position coach good since those will be the two coaches I'll be spending the most time with."

Throughout the process, one program that many have had their eyes on with Cunningham has been Texas A&M due to the reality that his father played for the Aggies. Hamilton's star defender talked about that situation and where he stands with the SEC program currently.

"Everything with A&M is still there. I feel like kind of early on when people started talking about my pops being from A&M and me being young I said some things. I mean they are still pretty high on my list but I figured many people thought I would automatically commit to them right off the bat. It's a great school down there. I've only taken one visit down there but I plan on going back for the Alabama game. My options are still fairly open with a couple other schools also, not just A&M. Like I told you, I want to be comfortable where ever I go. And like I told you again, it's not going to be my pops playing, practicing and working out, it's going to be me.

"I want to be happy with my decision at the end of all this," he said.



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