Jets FB Stacy Tutt has made a nice transition from QB to FB. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Position flexibility is a feat many players have to undertake to make it to the NFL. The Jets are the prime example of this practice, with players such as Brad Smith making the jump from quarterback to a successful wide receiver.
The jump, while often difficult for players who have spent a lifetime learning one position, is a necessity for college football stars whose ambitions and sights are set on the NFL.
However, the move from quarterback to wide receiver is a move that has been made before. Smith, former Steeler Kordell Stewart, and Jacksonville Jaguar Matt Jones are all notable quarterbacks who used their knowledge of the receiving game, combined with exceptional athleticism, to make it to the pros.
Moving from quarterback to running back, though, is quite the tall task to undertake. College quarterbacks may feel comfortable moving to receiver due to the fact that they have worked with them, and that it does not require constant contact; for a running back, though, the grind is completely different than a quarterback, requiring the player to either pick up a block or hit the line with extreme physicality.
Richmond product Stacy Tutt, though, knew that if he were to make it to the NFL, he would have to agree to make the move from QB to RB, and learn the position well enough to stick around the Jets as an undrafted free agent.
Over a season later, he has done just that.
Ironically for Tutt, making the NFL has been a series of firsts and new beginnings. Instead of building on what he learned growing up as a quarterback and playing for the Spiders as a mobile quarterback in college, he has had to learn how to play the running back position, and more recently, undertake the responsibilities of a fullback—yes, a former quarterback acting as the primary blocker for a quarterback—and special teams specialist.
While these roles are new for Tutt, though, he is more than willing to learn them and perfect them.
“Last year helped out a lot, being on the practice squad and all the scout teams, and now watching film and everything,” Tutt said. “I think I’ve improved a lot, and while there is room for more improvement, I find it a lot easier this year than last year.”
Tutt’s progression has actually been relatively surprising. When signing with the Jets last year, the only thing on the running back’s mind was probably clinging to a practice squad spot. Now, though, not only has he made it to the team’s 53-man roster, he is on the active 45- man team, getting playing time each week, both on special teams and in the backfield.
“I’m a team player and do whatever I can do, and I hope to get as much time on the offense as possible,” Tutt said.
The smoothness of Tutt’s transition is something to marvel at. Watching him in OTA’s and training camps, it would be difficult to point him out as a former quarterback; the assumption based on his quick feet and cutting abilitiy would cause onlookers to assume that he was always a hybrid back capable of picking up a block or hitting a hole.
Part of his flawless transition can probably be attributed to fellow backs Leon Washington and Thomas Jones. Tutt admits he picks the brains of these two players each practice, aiming to get every bit of advice out of them possible.
“We all kind of look to each other for advice,” Tutt said. “I think I ask more questions than everybody because they’ve been doing this there whole life.”
Tutt, though, has taken on the role in the opposite way, too. His Alma mater has made the Top-25 in the Football Championship Subdivision—formerly Division I-AA—rankings. Moreover, they feature a star running back, Tim Hightower, in the running for the Walter Payton award given to the best FCS player. And despite the fact that in his college days Tutt was a quarterback, he still speaks with Hightower and the team nearly every week, offering his own advice to the players.
“I talk to him nearly every week, see how he’s doing,” Tutt said, smiling about the success of the team and the running back.
While some players may be intimidated by the limelight of the NFL, Tutt, thrives in it. He expects himself to be a great running back, making the most of every opportunity he gets on the field, craving more.
“I just want to get out there and, whatever position they ask me to play, go out there and do the best I can to help the team win,” Tutt said.
Tutt has yet to see any carries this year, but has played in every game, and recorded two tackles on the year.
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