Tutt eyes his opponent during the game
Stacy Tutt's professional debut was both memorable and improbable. A day after being called up from the practice squad, Tutt led the way for RB Cedric Houston on a 6-yard score in the early goings of the Jets' rout of the Minnesota Vikings last December.
"That was cool, man. It was a lot of fun being on the field and making a block to spring Cedric for a touchdown," he said as the rain fell heavily on his head following this afternoon's workout. "Just being right out there on the field when all the guys celebrate is a lot different from watching it at home on Sunday."
Jets head coach Eric Mangini was not afraid to put the rookie in a late-season game with playoff implications. But the fullback and former star collegiate quarterback was not stunned that he immediately became part of the action.
"I wouldn't say I was shocked," he said. "Practice players practice for that opportunity. Whether we are on the practice squad or we're activated or not, it's still our profession. That is what I just try to do is be ready when they call my number. I got a chance to play, so that was good."
The 6'1", 233-pound Tutt had a good opportunity to play quarterback in the Canadian Football League, but he bypassed that route for his chance to play in the NFL. That meant a change of positions for a player who amassed 6,872 yards of total offense and 5,318 passing yards at Richmond. Those numbers rank second and third on the school's all-time list.
"The practice squad helped me continue to make the transition from quarterback to fullback," he said of his rookie pro season. "I learned to be more physical, line up the block a little bit better and just get acclimated to the way everything works here. It was a time to adjust to Coach Mangini and his staff. It was a good year. I learned a lot, so hopefully it will pay off."
Now in his second season, Tutt still has only played in two NFL games and has yet to record a statistic. That should change in the regular season. Tutt owns good hands and has the ability to get down the field.
"Stacy has some flexibility to play in the backfield and play out of the backfield, so that's always nice — similar to a Richie Anderson-type of mold," Mangini said early in camp. "I see some parallels there."
There aren't a ton of parallels between Tutt and fellow fullback Darian Barnes, a punishing leader locker whom the Jets added in free agency. But the two new teammates are friendly competitors who could complement each other well.
"We get along great. We hang out together outside of here and we talk a lot. He is a bruiser," Tutt said. "I am not going to be able to hit like him, but I watch things he does as far as using his hands and running in there. I learn a lot from just watching him. He has been doing this for a while. If I have a lot of questions about technique and stuff, I'll ask him, 'What would you do here' or 'What would you do if you got this look?' "
In addition to changing positions on offense, Tutt had to add another dimension to his game last year. Most college quarterbacks participate on special teams and he fell into that category.
"Again it was something I had to get used to. I didn't play them in college," he said. "Last year being on the practice squad and the scout team helped out a lot. Coach [Mike] Westhoff is a good coach. He is straightforward and tells his players what he expects out of them. Just doing it last year has helped out a lot. I am trying to be a big contributor on special teams and fit in where I can on offense."
Tutt is proof that patience can pay off. Now with added experience, he can look ahead to further celebrations.