Getting to the second level: Aidan Cunningham joins the William and Mary football team


Gary Rubin - [email protected]

Aidan Cunningham (12) shakes hands with head coach Franklin Weaver at football senior day. Photo courtesy of Gary Rubin.

After only playing seven games of football in his entire life, left tackle Aidan Cunningham (12) will have a preferred walk-on spot for William and Mary’s football team.

When recruiting college coaches look for length of time on varsity, an outstanding highlight reel, good size, good knowledge of the game, and good grades. In this situation head football coach at Falls Church, Franklin Weaver, reached out to coaches and asked them to give Aidan a “true evaluation” of his film. “William and Mary liked what they saw, and the ball started rolling.”

Aidan showed the attributes of a D1 player on the field. “He’s 6’6’’ 285 lbs and allowed me to not worry about getting hit where I wasn’t looking,” said starting quarterback, Caleb West (10). “He would step up and say we could run the ball behind him because he knew he was better than the person in front of him.”

Aidan’s road to Division One football was met with some adversity because he didn’t join the football team until his senior year and he missed an entire summer of practice as well as three games. “In the beginning I wasn’t great. As I learned more about technique I gradually got better, but I just had to go with the flow and figure things out as I did them,” said Aidan.

According to Aidan, being a center in basketball helped him learn how to be on the offensive line because “I had to learn how to be physical with people pushing against me.” When it comes to offensive line being a basketball center is essentially the same “except you can use your hands,” and be more physical.

Though Aidan had been recruited by a school he was already interested in, and with only a couple of months in between the time of his offer which was made, in early 2022 and to when he leaves for the team in early July, difficult choices had to be made.  “I didn’t have to quit baseball, but I decided to focus that time commitment on football,” said Aidan. “I’ve been in the gym lifting weights, running, and working on my stance. You can have a lot of skill and athleticism, but if you don’t have any of the technique, skill doesn’t really help.”

According to running back, Hugo Liu (12), Aidan was dependable on the field “even if he wasn’t the most experienced player,” and he was “extremely cerebral,” always asking questions despite “his brief time on the bench.”

According to Caleb, Aidan was a good player and a trustworthy leader. Aidan allowed him to play better because he didn’t have to worry about being hit on the blind side by an unblocked defender. He also added a level of trust because “he took ownership of his mistakes and held the other linemen accountable for theirs.” 

As well as playing football, Aidan will be studying Computer Science at William and Mary. “Aidan was a very coachable player who listened to everything you told him to do, but you can’t teach size and academics, ” said Weaver “He’s 6’6 285 with a 4.1 GPA, whatever he decides to do, Aidan will be successful. The sky is the limit.”