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Former college QB Tutt completing hard hits as a fullback with the Jets

Posted: September 7, 2007

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- Stacy Tutt used to be a scrambling quarterback with exceptional speed and an ability to hit wide receivers with sharp passes.

Two years removed from his college days slinging at Richmond, Tutt is preparing to hit opposing defensive players with bone-jarring blocks as a fullback with the New York Jets.

"I don't mind it," Tutt said Friday with a smile. "It was different at first, but I think I'm used to it now."

Tutt is in his second year with the Jets, but he spent all but two games last season on the practice squad learning his new position. He's been transformed by New York into a hard-hitting, pass-catching fullback who could be an important part of the offense.

"If that's what the coaches want me to do, that's fine with me," Tutt said. "Whether it's blocking, running, receiving, it's my job to contribute to the team and help out in any way."

Tutt is second on the depth chart at fullback behind Darian Barnes. He might also be an option at running back after rushing for 49 yards on 13 carries in the preseason.

"Since I came here, I haven't thrown the ball at all," Tutt said. "Some guys are like, 'I can't see you as a quarterback,' but before I came here that was all I could see myself as."

At 6-foot-2 and a solid 233 pounds, Tutt certainly looks the part of a fullback. But even he couldn't have imagined the position would be his path to the NFL, not when he was setting records as a quarterback for the Spiders in Division I-AA, which is now called the Football Championship Subdivision.

Tutt's 6,872 yards of total offense ranks him second on the school's career list and his 5,318 yards passing is third. He had 3,047 total yards, including 2,219 passing, and scored 28 touchdowns as a senior while leading the Spiders to the Division I-AA quarterfinals.

"I didn't know I would be a fullback," said Tutt, who started out as a wide receiver at Richmond. "Everything worked out. I got my chance and took advantage of it."

After going undrafted last year, the Jets signed Tutt as a free agent with the idea that he would play fullback -- a rare switch for a college quarterback.

"I think that you can't pigeonhole guys necessarily," coach Eric Mangini said.

But a quarterback moving to fullback?

"He's 6-2. He's 230. He's smart. He's got good hands," Mangini said. "He's a physical player."

The Jets have a few converted quarterbacks on their roster besides Tutt. Wide receivers Brad Smith and Chansi Stuckey played at least part of their college careers at quarterback, while a number of others played the position in high school.

"You always like working with those converted quarterbacks because you know they've had to run a huddle," Mangini said. "They've had to learn the whole scheme. It hasn't been tunnel vision for them."

Tutt welcomed the position change, despite how strange the idea seemed at first.

"I didn't care, I just wanted to play," he said. "I knew coming out of college that if I wanted to play at this level, chances were I'd be playing another position. That didn't matter to me. I've always been a team player and willing to play other spots for the good of the team."

The toughest aspect of Tutt's transformation has been learning to block and neutralize defensive players.

"I'm going against guys who have been in the league for five, six, seven years and they've been playing their defensive position since they were in high school, so they've got 13 or 14 years of experience," Tutt said. "I'm here just learning something new."

During his nearly season-long stint on the practice squad last season, he worked extensively with running backs coach Jimmy Raye, as well as then-assistants Richie Anderson and Sam Gash, both former NFL fullbacks. Tutt also picked the brains of the Jets' two other fullbacks last season, B.J. Askew and James Hodgins.

"It was really tough at first, having to block and do things like that, and learn to play physical," Tutt said. "It was just a lot different. I think I made some strides within that first year and now I just need to continue to get better."

Tutt is hoping to be on the field Sunday against the Patriots. He just won't be throwing any passes.

"I don't think I could throw the ball if they wanted me to," Tutt said with a laugh. "I can't throw the ball anymore."

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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