Waterbury native, ex-SCSU star Jerome Cunningham gets opportunity as Giants’ backup against Pats

New York Giants tight end Jerome Cunningham (86) stiff-arms New England Patriots' Jonathan Freeny (55) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday Nov. 15, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Gary Hershorn)

By: Matt Gad

Normally, New York Giants tight end Jerome Cunningham doesn’t see the field. I mean, he’s third-string, so what do you expect?

But, with Larry Donnell out with an injury Sunday against the Patriots, opportunities came for Will Tye, and Cunningham, the first-year tight end out of Waterbury and Southern, an undrafted 24-year-old who normally sees action as a member of the practice squad.

It’s kind of strange that when an Owl cracks the NFL, he seems to end up with the Giants. Former longtime Giants coach Kevin Gilbride is the second name that comes up when you search for Southern’s most notable alumni.

The first, you might ask? That would be Miss Heidi Voight, a former pageantry superstar who was Miss Connecticut, and participated in a Miss America competition in 2007. Now, Voight she spends her time as a traffic and freelance reporter for NBC Connecticut.

Cunningham saw the field as a backup tight end yesterday, and came up with a crucial ball thrown by the Manning who had the least bit of struggles on Sunday afternoon (brother Peyton was benched towards the end of his game against Kansas City, after throwing four interceptions).

Cunningham scooped up a 16-yard-pass in the third quarter. He finished with four receptions for 29 yards, and was one overthrown ball from Eli Manning away from his first-career touchdown.

Yes, Will Tye saw the bulk of tight end action on Sunday (5 rec, 56 yards), but Cunningham finally got his opportunity in the game–not on the practice squad.

For now, he’s just a TE3, and everyone in Blue and White knows that the starting tight end spot belongs to Donnell. But the fact that a Southern alumni has the opportunity with a professional football team is something. The same man that ate the Chartwells food I am eating for dinner tonight is a New York Giant.

Practice squad or no practice squad, the 24-year-old is ready to work, and work he will.

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