QB decides to stay at Vanderbilt


Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 at 12:02 a.m.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Quarterback Jay Cutler announced Monday that he will return for his senior season with the Vanderbilt Commodores, the program he said he couldn't wait to leave midway through last year's 2-9 season.
"I was just looking for that turning point to make me want to leave. I want to be here another year ...," he said. "I love my teammates dearly. There was never any changing. There just wasn't enough to convince me to leave."
Cutler said he decided not to make a quick decision after the season ended. He received what he called a positive evaluation from the NFL on where he might be drafted, but he wouldn't discuss what he was told.
But Cutler was among the Commodores who attended the funeral of running back Kwane Doster in Tampa on Dec. 31. He said the past weeks since Doster was shot to death on Dec. 26 have brought the team even closer together.
"His death, it brought us even closer and made some of us realize how important this team is and how much we really put into this stuff," Cutler said.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound quarterback was 147-of-241 for 1,844 yards and 10 touchdowns with five interceptions in 2004. He also ran 109 times for 349 yards and six more touchdowns. He has completed 56 percent of his passes for 5,624 yards over three seasons as a starter with 38 touchdown passes for his career with 27 interceptions.
Cutler has won only six games in his three seasons as a starter. He said that's a statistic he wants to change before he graduates this fall.
"I feel good about my chances. I'm excited about next year. I'm ready to get back to work," he said.
n EARLY ENTREES: Temple quarterback Walter Washington and Utah receiver Steve Savoy will leave school early to enter the NFL Draft.
Mississippi center Chris Spencer also declared for the draft on Monday.
Washington, a second-team All Big East selection, ran for 15 touchdowns during his junior season and led the conference in total offense with 3,096 yards. He finished fourth on Temple's career list in total yards (4,940), ninth in yards passing (3,472) and 12th in rushing (1,468).
Savoy, the second-leading receiver in Utah's 12-0 season, is skipping his final two seasons, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
"I'm going," Savoy told the newspaper. Savoy's decision isn't much of a surprise. He said before the Utes' 35-7 win over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl that he was considering the move and would decide after the season. Savoy said if junior quarterback Alex Smith stayed, he might as well.
Smith announced last week that he was entering the April draft.
Savoy had 67 catches for 961 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore. He is eligible to enter the draft because he has been out of high school for three years.
Spencer, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound junior, was a two-year starter and an honorable mention selection to the Associated Press all-SEC team. He said he was projected as a second-round pick in the draft.
"This was a tough decision, but one I felt I needed to make after getting the facts from the NFL," Spencer said. "I'll miss my teammates, but Ole Miss will always be a part of me."
Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft and have until Jan. 19 to withdraw their names.
  • TENNESSEE: A former Tennessee player and his family are going back to court over their claims that coach Phillip Fulmer and the NCAA defamed them during an investigation into recruiting violations at Alabama.
    Kenny Smith and his parents filed a lawsuit in Knox County Chancery Court Thursday seeking $480 million because of statements Fulmer made to NCAA officials in 2000, according to documents obtained Monday by The Associated Press. A similar lawsuit filed last year in Alabama was dismissed.
    Fulmer told the NCAA there were rumors Smith's mother was involved with an Alabama assistant coach and that Smith had dealings with a former Alabama booster. Smith originally signed with the Crimson Tide but later went to Tennessee.
    Fulmer's attorney, Jeff Hagood, doesn't think the lawsuit has merit.
    "They can write a check with these allegations, but they sure can't cash it when you consider the facts and the truth," he said.
    Normally interviews conducted by NCAA investigators are confidential, but Fulmer's statements were publicized a year ago when NCAA documents were released through a criminal court case in Memphis involving Logan Young, the former Alabama booster.
    Attorneys representing two former Alabama assistant coaches in a separate lawsuit against the NCAA have alleged Fulmer conspired with the organization to bring down the Alabama football program.
    The lawsuits kept Fulmer from attending this year's Southeastern Conference football media days in Birmingham. A few days later, an Alabama judge threw out the Smiths' lawsuit, citing a lack of jurisdiction.
    The NCAA, American Football Coaches Association and Fulmer sued the Smiths in Knox County in March after the family began threatening a lawsuit. The coaches and NCAA want a judge to rule that statements made to NCAA investigators are protected from lawsuits. That case has not been resolved.
    The Smiths, who live in South Pittsburg, Tenn., believe the coaches' lawsuit gives them a basis for jurisdiction since it was filed in Tennessee.
    The Smiths' attorney, David Buuck of Knoxville, said he believes the two lawsuits filed in Knox County will be consolidated.
    "Obviously I think we have a good case or I wouldn't have filed it. They think they've got a good one too," Buuck said.
  • COLORADO: A former Colorado kicker who says she was raped by a teammate and terrified of telling her coach about it said sexual harassment started the day she joined the team.
    Katie Hnida said she is still haunted by what she went through.
    "It's been five years, and it's still terrifying. It's still something that I wake up with and I deal with," Hnida said in an interview aired Monday on NBC's "Today."
    At least nine women including Hnida have said they were assaulted by Colorado football players or recruits since 1997. No criminal charges have been filed, though Hnida said she is part of an investigation by the state attorney general and Boulder police.
    "The investigation is very far from over," said Hnida, who first told her story of rape and mistreatment to Sports Illustrated last February.
    The university issued a statement Monday saying it has asked Hnida to provide information about the alleged attack so action can be taken.
    "Regretfully, she has chosen not to respond to these calls, but we understand that is her personal decision," the school said. "We admire Katie's strength and perseverance in pursuing her dream of playing college football, and we wish her the very best in her future endeavors."
    Hnida joined Colorado in 1999 as a walk-on but never got into a game. She transferred to New Mexico in 2002 and the next year became the first woman to score in a Division I-A football game, kicking two extra points in a 72-8 win over Texas State-San Marcos.
    Colorado coach Gary Barnett was suspended for three months in early 2004 in part for comments he made after Hnida's story was revealed. He called her an "awful" player and said "not only was she a girl, she was terrible."
  • SENIOR BOWL: Auburn's Jason Campbell, Georgia's David Greene and Arizona State's Andrew Walter will share quarterback duties for the South team in this month's Senior Bowl.
    The North quarterbacks are three top NFL prospects: Akron's Charlie Frye, Connecticut's Dan Orlovsky and Purdue's Kyle Orton.
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden will coach the South in the Jan. 29 game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Norv Turner of the Oakland Raiders will coach the North.
    Campbell, the SEC's offensive player of the year, led undefeated Auburn to an SEC championship and a No. 2 ranking. His 31 career victories are the most for an Auburn quarterback.
    Greene's 42 wins are the most of any quarterback in NCAA Division I-A history. He broke the mark of 39 held by Tennessee's Peyton Manning.
    Walter is the Pac-10's all-time leader in touchdown passes with 85. He had been rated high among draft prospects until he injured his right shoulder Nov. 26 against Arizona and had surgery Dec. 7.
    Frye set 54 school records, including career marks for yards passing (11,049), total offense (11,478), completion percentage (63.6) and touchdowns (64).
    Orlovsky threw for 3,354 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2004 and was MVP of the Motor City Bowl. Orton led the Big Ten with 28 touchdown passes this season and 290.9 yards in total offense a game.
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