By Ted Fleming
Captain Munnerlyn, Cornerback, #41
Hometown: Mobile AL
College: South Carolina
Experience: 4 years
In the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers, he would give up a fumble that led to a Tampa Bay touchdown. But later, he atoned for his sin with a pick-six of a Josh Freeman pass. Sadly, the Carolina Panthers would lose to the Buccaneers in overtime and the only thing that was talked about was his team’s collapse in a game that was seemingly in the win column.
Captain Munnerlyn said after the game that he had put his team in a hole and needed to come up with a big play. He did. It was the second time this season, and third of his brief career, that he has plucked an errant throw out of the air and returned it for a touchdown. At the time it was a big momentum swing for his team.
Munnerlyn is not big (5-foot-8, 190 pounds), but in his college bio it says he is a physical corner who plays much bigger than his size. He also has one of the more unusual first names in pro sports, and it goes back at least four generations.
“My momma promised my grandmomma that she could name the last child,” he would say after the Carolina Panthers drafted him in 2009. “I was the boy of the family, and she named me Captain. Her great grandfather was named Captain, so I got named after my great-great grandfather. My sisters and brothers have normal names. I got the odd name. In the beginning it was kind of rough. Kids used to tease me a little, but it fits my personality, because I feel like I’m a leader.”
After his high school days at Murphy High School in Mobile where he earned a spot on the Alabama Sports Writers Association All-State team as well as being a three-time all-region selection where he also participated in the Junior All-Star Game and Pigskin Classic in Hawaii, he would take his name and talent to the University of South Carolina under the tutelage of the legendary “Old Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier after declining scholarships from Kansas State and West Virginia.
With the Gamecocks he would play in 36 games, 28 of them starts, at cornerback and before leaving for the NFL after his junior year he would record 127 tackles, two sacks, five interceptions, 19 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He was also solid on kick returns (22.8 yard average) and punts (7.6).
In his fourth season with the Panthers, Munnerlyn has started 29 of the 55 games he has played in after being taken in the seventh round (216th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft.
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Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.