BOONE, N.C. — App State Football has hired Travis Cunningham as a defensive assistant coach, head coach Shawn Clark announced Friday.
Cunningham coached WKU’s inside linebackers during the 2022 season after working with recently hired App State defensive coordinator Scot Sloan as Georgia Southern’s inside linebackers coach in a 3-4 scheme from 2018-21.
“We’re excited to welcome Travis, his wife, Kelly, and their sons, Brooks and Blake, to the App Family,” Clark said. “Travis has been an impressive defensive coach throughout his career. He aligns with our program’s values, and he will be an asset as a teacher of the game and a mentor to our young men.”
Cunningham played at Gardner-Webb from 1999-2000 and then coached at his alma mater for the next 17 seasons, adding defensive coordinator in its 3-4 scheme to his duties for his final two seasons with the Runnin’ Bulldogs.
Last year, during a 9-5 season for WKU, the Hilltoppers ranked in the top 30 nationally in interceptions (nine), passing yards allowed per game (No. 23 at 182.3) and pass efficiency defense (No. 12 at 105.87) while allowing just 22.8 points per game and 369.0 yards per game.
“I would like to express my deepest appreciation to Coach Clark and Doug Gillin for this tremendous opportunity,” Cunningham said. “My family and I are so excited to be a part of the App State family, and I’m ready to get to work. Go App!”
Cunningham helped guide Georgia Southern to three bowl games in his first three seasons with the Eagles, who won the 2018 Raycom Media Camellia Bowl and 2020 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.
With Cunningham and recently hired assistant coach Victor Cabral helping coach Sloan’s defense at Georgia Southern, the 2020 squad that went 8-5 ranked No. 1 in the country in interceptions (18), No. 14 in total defense, No. 14 in rushing defense and No. 12 in red zone defense. The 2019 team led the Sun Belt in fumbles recovered and tackles for loss per game, while the 2018 team that went 10-3 led the FBS with a +22 turnover margin and allowed just 21.5 points per game.
During his 17 seasons at Gardner-Webb, Cunningham spent 14 of those seasons coaching inside linebackers and one season coaching the secondary. Six Bulldogs earned all-conference honors under Cunningham’s leadership as defensive coordinator, and his standouts included an FCS All-American in linebacker Chad Geter, who went on to play professionally in the Canadian Football League.
A total of 21 players earned all-conference honors under Cunningham’s guidance at Gardner-Webb, and six were named to postseason All-America teams.
After playing for the Bulldogs as a long snapper and special teams contributor from 1999-2000, Cunningham earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Gardner-Webb in 2003.
2001-02: Gardner-Webb (Student assistant)
2003-04: Gardner-Webb (Inside linebackers)
2005: Gardner-Webb (Secondary)
2006-15: Gardner-Webb (Inside linebackers)
2016-17: Gardner-Webb (Defensive coordinator/Inside linebackers)
2018-21: Georgia Southern (Inside linebackers)
2022: WKU (Inside linebackers)
Alma Mater: Gardner-Webb, 2003
Hometown: Knoxville, Tenn.
Birthdate: Feb. 3, 1981 in Knoxville, Tenn.
Sons: Brooks and Blake