Former Alabama A&Mand North Alabama quarterback Chris Gunn has tossed 12 touchdown passes for the Tennessee Valley Vipers this year.
Coaching at Spain Park, but playing in Huntsville, Gunn doesn't mind the long daily drive
By Ashley Hargrove
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HUNTSVILLE — Driving four hours a day to get to and from his second job is something that Tennessee Valley Vipers quarterback Chris Gunn knows all about.
But why does he drive so far? Well, it's pretty simple — he loves doing it.
Gunn lives in Hoover and is the receivers coach at Spain Park High. He plays football while working around his Spain Park responsibilities.
"It can get old sometimes," Gunn said. "But when your doing something that you love, you don't mind it."
Gunn, 24, has played for the Tennessee Valley organization since 2005, but after last season, he began talking to the Alabama Steeldogs in hopes of playing closer to home.
"I started talking to them in the off-season," Gunn said. "I went to the first game of the season which was against the Vipers, and it hit me while I was sitting there that it didn't feel right. That's when I decided that playing for the Vipers is something I wanted to continue to do."
Because of injuries to two other quarterbacks, Gunn will get his first start of the season Saturday night when the Vipers (4-6) face the South Georgia Wildcats (7-3), who lead arenafootball2's South Division. Kickoff at the Von Braun Center will be at 7:30 p.m.
Even though he has not started yet this year, he has thrown for 619 yards and 12 touchdowns as a reserve. In addition, he leads the team in rushing with 43 yards.
"I don't feel too pressured," Gunn said. "I started in nine games last season, so I don't feel like there is really any added pressure. It's just a matter of going out there and performing. I know the coaches and the team are behind me no matter what happens."
Before joining the Vipers in 2005, Gunn played three seasons as starting quarterback at Alabama A&M before transferring to North Alabama for his senior season.
He threw for 1,798 yards in his career at A&M.While at UNA, he served mostly as a backup, passing for 295 yards and rushing for 363.
"I enjoyed my experience at UNA," Gunn said." "Playing there helped me humble myself and grow up to an extent.
"While I was at A&M, I got caught up in being quarterback, and once I got to UNA, I realized that I wasn't what I thought I was."
With what free time Gunn has, he said he likes going home and spending time with his family, especially his two nephews.
"I actually had an off day last week," Gunn said. "I spent a couple of days out on the lake just enjoying not having anything to do."
Even though Gunn doesn't play for A&M or UNA anymore, he still likes to keep up with how they are doing.
"I went and watched UNA this past season when they played against Coach (Bobby) Wallace at West Alabama," Gunn said.
"I also got to catch the first playoff game after our (Spain Park) season ended."
As for playing for the Vipers, Gunn said he feels like he still has a few more years left in him.
"I feel like I can last at least three more years," Gunn said. "I feel like I can move up eventually, but if not then I'll take the hint and hang it up."
Chris Gunn at a glance
Size: 6-foot-1, 180 pounds.
Day job: Varsity receivers coach, Spain Park High.
College experience: Played three years at Alabama A&Mbefore transferring to North Alabama to play his senior season in 2004.
College stats: Completed 148 of 292 passes for 1,798 yards with 12 touchdowns at Alabama A&M. In one season at North Alabama, he completed 29 of 50 passes for 295 yards and two TDs. Rushed for 363 yards and four TDs.
Pro football experience: Played for the Tennessee Valley Raptors in 2005 and the Vipers in 2006 and ’07.
2006 stats: Completed 168 of 318 passes for 2,192 yards with 37 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 11 games. Also rushed 57 times for 231 yards and nine touchdowns.
2007 stats: Completed 49 of 105 passes for 619 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. Rushed 18 times for 43 yards and two touchdowns.
- Ashley Hargrove
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