LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In a sport where “next man up” means always being prepared to take the field in an instant, maybe no backup position is as important as quarterback. That’s the thought for Louisville redshirt freshman Malik Cunningham, who is preparing for his role as the backup to projected starter Jawon Pass.

“I’ve been in the playbook since I got here, just learning more of the concepts of the offense,” Cunningham said. “I’m just staying focused knowing that I’m one play away.”

Cunningham tried to absorb what he could last year from former quarterback Lamar Jackson, but also from Pass, who was preparing for his role as the backup to the Heisman Trophy winner.

“Malik’s one play away from having to go into the game, so he needs to prepare like a starter,” said U of L co-offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway.

Cunningham made the most of his starts in high school at Park Crossing in Montgomery, Alabama. He finished his career with nearly 8,500 yards of total offense and was ranked as the top quarterback in Alabama by scouting services. He chose U of L over several schools, including SEC teams Georgia, Kentucky and LSU.

Without any real experience as a college quarterback, Cunningham is learning the position in coach Bobby Petrino’s quarterback friendly system.

“It was the little things when I came in,” Cunningham said. “The whole spring…I’ve been working on things like stepping up in the pocket and finding checkdowns and things like that.”

While he has participated in closed scrimmages, we will get our first look at Cunningham in game action Saturday April 14th in the annual Spring Game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

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