A Cutler Above the Rest
Vandy QB took his licks in tough SEC, but came out on top
Posted: Thursday March 2, 2006 5:40PM; Updated: Wednesday March 8, 2006 12:21PM
Vanderbilt University's biggest drive of the past 23 years was only 29 seconds long, but that was all the time that the quarterback from Santa Claus, Ind. needed. The sea of orange and white clamoring for his team's demise could not stop him. He is a fierce competitor who hates losing.
Saint Nick, otherwise known as quarterback Jay Cutler, delivered a 28-24 victory over rival Tennessee in what will go down as one of the biggest wins in Vandy football history. Yet, without the golden arm of their All-SEC quarterback, the Commodores' story would have been quite different.
Since his arrival in Nashville, Cutler has always been a leader. In fact, the first time he stepped onto the practice field as a redshirt freshman, Cutler displayed an attitude and presence that defined his years.
"When I first got here, I didn't know who the quarterbacks were going to be. I didn't even know their names," said Vandy strength and conditioning coach John Sisk. "When I saw him throwing for the first time, there were already 14 guys around him listening to him. From then on, I knew he was the kind of guy that could lead this football team."
Cutler may not have worn a cape behind center for the 'Dores, but he probably should have considered it. With little supporting cast, Cutler often won games with his arm. Playing at Vanderbilt's Dudley Field, where the fans of opposing teams usually outnumber the small Commodores' student section, Cutler never got the national recognition he deserved as one of the elite passers in college football.
Yet, while he might have been an unknown commodity nationally, his talent and leadership was never questioned.
"Of every single guy on our football team, he was the unquestioned leader," said offensive tackle Ryan King, who was Cutler's roommate. "We knew that Jay Cutler would come up big every time. He is an outstanding leader and a very intelligent and gutsy player."
Along with his guts and competitiveness (he hates losing in everything from pool to video games), Cutler had an uncanny commitment to his teammates, win or lose. He treated all of them with respect, whether they were freshmen, seniors, or second-string kickers.