Cornell receiver Javonni Cunningham, son of Jimmy ‘The Jet,’ added to 2023 CFL Draft class

Graphic: 3DownNation (Photo: Chip DeLorenzo/Chip Shots Sports Photography | John Bradley/

An intriguing young receiver with major CFL bloodlines could be making the jump to the pro level as a Canadian.

According to sources, Cornell’s Javonni Cunningham, the son of former CFL all-star kick returner Jimmy Cunningham, has been added to the 2023 CFL Draft class and will be eligible for selection in May.

The five-foot-11, 185-pound speedster was raised in Suwanee, Georgia, but carries dual citizenship due to being born in Vancouver while his father was playing for the Lions.

Nicknamed “The Jet” due to his blazing speed, the elder Cunningham played seven seasons in the CFL with Toronto and B.C. The Howard University product entered the league in 1995 with the Argos, spending parts of three seasons with the team before signing with the Buffalo Bills. After being cut from the NFL, he joined the Lions for three more seasons. He would spend the 2001 season with the XFL’s San Francisco Demons, before finishing his career back in Toronto.

In 67 career games, Cunnigham caught 204 passes for 2,630 yards and nine touchdowns but did most of his damage as a return specialist. He fielded 275 punts for 2,783 yards and eight majors while adding 186 kickoff returns for 3,828 yards and another score. He also contributed 471 yards on 21 missed field goals and notched one career interception.

Cunningham was twice named a CFL All-Star, once with each franchise he played for. He won the league’s Most Outstanding Special Teams award in 1999 after contributing six total touchdowns with the Lions.

His son, Javonni, was a two-time all-state wide receiver and kick returner at North Gwinnett high school, helping win a 7A Georgia state championship as a junior. He was also an all-region track star, posting a personal best 10.76-second 100-meter dash.

Cunningham committed to Cornell over offers from 16 other NCAA programs, including Cincinnati, Kentucky, and Michigan. He would go on to play just 16 games for the Ivy League school over three seasons due, in part, to a cancelled 2020 season.

As a receiver, Cunningham played sparingly and recorded just eight career catches for 16 yards. Much like his father, he contributed much more actively as a returner, fielding 32 kickoffs for 719 yards — an average of 22.5 yards per return.

Cunningham largely remains an enigma due to his lack of college playing time but is expected to rise through the process thanks to his speed and the lack of depth in this receiving class. He has been invited to the CFL’s Super Regional Combine in Waterloo on March 3 and could earn an upgrade to the National Combine with a strong showing in the 40-yard dash.

The CFL Draft will take place on Tuesday, May 2 at 8 p.m. ET.

J.C. Abbott is a University of British Columbia graduate and high school football coach. He covers the CFL, B.C. Lions, CFL Draft and the three-down league's Global initiative.