Tutt eyes his opponent during the game
Just a few days into his first training camp as head coach of the New York Jets, Eric Mangini was asked if there was a young player who had stood out in the early summer practices.
"I've been impressed with Stacy Tutt," Mangini said. "He's done a lot of positive things. Here is a guy who was a quarterback last year and consistently makes tackles in the tackling drill and will pretty much do anything he can do to be successful. He is a smart guy. I like the way that he has shown up each day."
Tutt, an undrafted rookie who originally signed with the Jets in May, threw for 2,219 yards and 16 touchdowns his senior season at Richmond. The 6'1", 233-pounder registered 6,872 yards of total offense during his collegiate career, a number that ranks second in school annals.
But Tutt never took a snap at quarterback during training camp and was listed as a running back on the roster. He was waived before the first regular-season game and signed to the practice squad a day later. Then 24 hours before the December road contest at Minnesota, the Jets promoted Tutt to the active roster.
When the Jets kickoff return team took the field at the Metrodome, Tutt ran out onto the big stage. Later in the first quarter, he lined up at fullback and paved the way for Cedric Houston's six-yard touchdown run.
"We thought he gave us a real advantage in matchup situations," Mangini said of Tutt. "It didn't quite work the way we hoped to. We thought he could help us win that game. That being said, we were going to bring him up, play him, and give him the opportunity to do that."
"When you do the game plan, there are certain things that you didn't plan for and different things happen during the game where you have to make changes and sometimes stray away from the game plan," Tutt said. "I knew there were some things that I was going to be asked to do and I got asked to do them a couple times in the game. I just went out and tried to do my best."
Mangini gave him another opportunity to play the following week in Miami. He didn't record any statistics in '06, but he came a long way his rookie season.
"I got a lot of calls from my family members," Tutt said after gaining his first professional experience. "I have a lot of people around me who are very supportive and very proud of me."