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Big Apple beckons for Tutt
Stacey Tutt gets NFL invite

 If Stacy Tutt (3) makes the New York Jets roster and eventually sees some playing time, he may encounter some old adversaries from his Richmond days, such as Mario Williams, Houston's No. 1 pick.
FILE/KARL DEBLAKER/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 5/3/2006

By JIM McCONNELL

RICHMOND--As a young boy growing up in Tappahannock, Stacy Tutt watched his beloved Washington Redskins rock RFK Stadium on Sundays and dreamed of pursuing a career in the NFL.

Thanks to the New York Jets, the former Essex High School and University of Richmond quarterback is one step closer to making that dream a reality.

Tutt, who wasn't selected in last weekend's NFL draft, signed a free-agent contract with the Jets yesterday afternoon. He'll report to the Jets' first minicamp Friday and remain in the New York area while participating in the team's offseason conditioning program.

"It would've been nice to get drafted, but at the same time if you go undrafted you pretty much get to choose a situation that's good for you," Tutt said yesterday. "I think the Jets are a good fit."

Tutt amassed 3,047 yards of total offense and accounted for 28 touchdowns during his senior season at Richmond, leading the Spiders to the Division I-AA quarterfinals. But while he had the size--he's 6-foot-2 and weighs 235 pounds--and speed (4.4 in the 40-yard dash) to impress pro scouts, few projected him as a quarterback on the next level.

Six NFL teams--the Giants, Saints, Patriots, Bills, Panthers and Eagles--sent representatives to Richmond to watch Tutt work out.

Only one, the Jets, took the next step and invited Tutt to visit their Hempstead, N.Y., headquarters. He met with new head coach Eric Mangini and his staff, and immediately felt a high level of mutual interest.

There was only one catch: The Jets envisioned Tutt wreaking havoc on opposing defenses as an H-back, a hybrid position that incorporates responsibilities of the tight end and fullback.

Tutt has never played tight end or fullback on any level, but he wasn't about to let that fact stand between himself and a shot at the NFL.

"There are a lot of things I have to learn and get comfortable with, but I know enough going in so I won't be overwhelmed," he said. "Being a quarterback you have to know what everyone does. I think just being in this system with Coach [Dave] Clawson for the last couple years will definitely help me a lot in the future."

Tutt leaves Richmond as one of the most explosive offensive players in school history. His 6,872 yards of total offense rank him second all-time. He finished his career with 5,318 passing yards--good for third--while his 160 points are fourth on the Spiders' career list.

"I am extremely happy for Stacy," Clawson said. "He has worked extremely hard the past couple of years to get an opportunity like this. It is a great compliment to how hard he has worked. The entire Richmond football family is extremely happy for him and the opportunity he is getting."

To reach JIM McCONNELL: 540/374-5444
Email: jmcconnell@freelancestar.com