Today at The Football Fan Spot we have Stony Brook running back and NFL Draft prospect Conte Cuttino. Conte has been working hard in this draft preseason trying to get his name out there and get himself drafted. He is Stony Brook’s all time leading rusher with 3067 career yards and also added 245 yards through the air as well as 20 rushing touchdowns. He was part of two Pro Days, Fordham’s and U Albany’s, showing very good measurables with 40 times of 4.45 and 4.53 at 5-10 200, as well as a 40.5 inch vertical leap and a 10 foot 7 inch broad jump. He is currently regarded as a late round prospect. Today, he is here to tell us about his game and his Pre-Draft experience.
The Football Fan Spot: First, a little bit of background stuff, when did you start playing football? Who did were some of your favorite players to watch as a kid? Favorite team to watch? When did you first realize that you had a really good shot at the NFL?
Conte Cuttino: I started playing when I was 7 years old. My favorite players to watch were Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders and O.J. Simpson. I don’t really have a favorite team, I just like to watch a good game. I have always believed I was capable of making it to the NFL, even as a kid. But it really set in when I was a junior and senior in high school – football came easy for me.
TFFS: You played last year in Division I-AA. How do you think playing in Division I-AA compares to playing in Division I? Would you say it’s a bit of a disadvantage coming from a smaller school background as you try to transition to the NFL?
CC: The major disadvantage comes now, during the draft process, because of the lack of exposure during my college career and because I was not invited to the NFL Combine. My college games were not nationally televised, and ESPN is not tracking my draft process. I have to push hard to get my name into the draft atmosphere, and there is always a comment made about the competition I played against coming from a small school. There is not enough credit given to the talent of D I-AA football players. If you compare my pro day numbers to that of the running backs at the NFL Combine, I rank amongst the top 5%. That should speak for itself in regards to the stereotype of D-IAA competition.
TFFS: Its been roughly 3 months since the end of your season. Do you think are an improved player since the end of the season and if so, in what way?
CC: I have been training at Parisi Speed School since the beginning of January. My trainers have definitely helped to improve my speed and change of direction, as well as my catching abilities, all of which is important for me to showcase at my pro day and team workouts.
TFFS: Which, if any, NFL teams have contacted you up to this point? Which teams sent scouts to your Pro Days?
CC: So far the Jets and Giants have been in contact with me. Many teams’ scouts were at the Fordham Pro day, including the Bengals, Bills, Browns, Chargers, Colts, Eagles, Giants, Jets, Packers, Raiders, Saints, Vikings and Dolphins.
TFFS: I have always found it very interesting to ask prospects what round they believe they will be drafted in, so, honestly, putting aside where you think you should be drafted, what draft range do you think you will be drafted in?
CC: I believe I am a hybrid type of back that is useful in many positions, so that increases my value. I would say I am a late 5th to 7th round pick.
TFFS: A lot of guys, especially from small school backgrounds go undrafted, sign with a team, make the practice squad, and then bounce around from practice squad to practice squad, maybe get a job as a 4th running back on a roster somewhere and then back down to the practice squad. I’m not saying that will be your fate and I certainly hope for the best for you, but if that were the case, how long of that could you take? At what point would you say, I know I’m a good running back, but this just isn’t working out for me, and then go down another career path?
CC: I’m a player that loves the game so, God forbid that happens, I’ll make the best of my opportunity and keep fighting, because the dream is never over until you stop trying.
TFFS: Who do you compare yourself most to in the NFL? Is there anyone you model your game after?
CC: I can compare myself to a Westbrook type of player, who can run on the inside and outside and is also a threat in the pass game with screens and in the slot position. I really have no one specific person that I model my game after. I try to take a little piece from all the great running backs and formulate their moves into a style of my own.
TFFS: You’re New York born and raised, what would it mean to you to be drafted by a hometown team like the Giants or Jets?
CC: It would be the greatest feeling in the world to live out my dream and be able to play in front of my family and friends.
TFFS: One of the biggest differences I see between college running backs who don’t make it as every down backs and those who do is pass catching and pass blocking. How comfortable are you running routes out of the backfield and picking up blitzes?
CC: I did a lot of that during my college career, so I am completely comfortable with running routes and blocking. Even though there is a big difference in size and speed from college to the pro’s, I’m sure I will be able to make that adjustment and be the productive back a team needs me to be.
TFFS: Give me a little bit of a self scouting report, what do you say you could contribute most to an NFL team? What is your biggest weakness or thing you need to work on most?
CC: I am a very elusive, change of pace, type of back. I can make the first guy miss and am able to see the hole and hit it fast. I can catch the ball out the back field very well, and can be a weapon in the screen game. I also have experience in kick return and punt return. My weakness would be my size for the blocking game but I can still be effective in it.
TFFS: Shifting from you to your team, what is one thing about Stony Brook football you think the common fan should know?
CC: Stony Brook Football has very talented athletes that have the talent to play on Sundays. In the near future, Stony Brook will be a place where NFL players get drafted from often.
TFFS: Any plans for draft day?
CC: No plans, just relaxing and not letting the day get the best of me. Definitely a lot of praying with the family, and eyes and ears tuned into the TV.
TFFS: One final question, if an NFL GM were standing right in front of you and asked you, why should we draft you, what would you say to him?
CC: I am a great character player. Growing up in a household with correction officers for parents, I was raised with great discipline and respect. I am a versatile back and can be used in multiple ways within your offense. I can also return kickoffs and punts while still being a threat in the pass game. You can always count on me to represent your team and the league in a respectful manor.