What led Louisiana Monroe offensive lineman Vic Cutler to transfer to Ohio State
If Vic Cutler had any hesitation over transferring to Ohio State, it was over the matter of playing time.
With only two seasons of eligibility remaining as he entered the transfer portal out of Louisiana Monroe earlier this month, he was looking for a school that presented him with a shot at competing for a starting spot on its offensive line.
“My big concern was I don’t want to go to a school where I’m just going to ride the bench,” Cutler said.
That made the assurance from Buckeyes offensive line coach Justin Frye all the more impactful. During Frye’s visit with Cutler and his parents at their home in northern Louisiana, he assuaged any concerns.
“He told me,” recalled Cutler, “ ’If you think I flew down to Monroe, where I don’t even know where Monroe is, just to bring you up as depth, you’re crazy.’”
The message was clear and resonated as he later visited Columbus to meet with the rest of the coaching staff and players, so Cutler signed with the Buckeyes.
“My time in college is ticking down,” Cutler said. “I’m trying to elevate myself to get to that next level, so wherever school I felt like I could do it best I will, and I felt like Ohio State was the best choice for me.”
Cutler will battle to be Ohio State's starting center
It was Cutler's versatility that drew the Buckeyes' interest. Not only did he start all season at left tackle at Louisiana Monroe, but he also made starts the previous year at right tackle and center. All three spots of those spots on OSU’s line were vacated due to NFL departures.
Due to Cutler’s size − a 6-foot-3 frame that puts him in the mold of most interior offensive linemen in the Big Ten − he will compete at Ohio State at center rather than tackle and vie to replace Luke Wypler.
“I don’t care where I play on the line,” Cutler said, “as long as it gives me the opportunity to get on the field and play and get to that next level.”
Cutler credits his multi-sport background for fostering his ability to take on multiple positions. He grew up playing basketball and baseball before he found football in middle school, and those sports helped establish quickness and footwork.
“I was always quick on my feet. I was light on my feet,” he said. “That transition, when I got to play offensive line, helped me a lot. Because with basketball, you’re constantly moving, you have to make quick transitions happen, you have to have quick hips. Doing that with football and playing offensive line, I felt I had an advantage.”
Cutler feels ready for the big stage
Cutler didn’t have the chance to join a blue-blood program out of high school. A two-star recruit from West Monroe, he had no scholarship offers from Power Five conference schools.
But as the Warhawks faced Alabama and Texas in non-conference games this past season, he held his own against those talented fronts. According to Pro Football Focus, he gave up only one sack to the Longhorns and none against the Crimson Tide, whose roster features prolific edge rushers Will Anderson and Dallas Turner.
Cutler relished the matchups, and the rabid environments at the stadiums in Austin and Tuscaloosa left him with a taste of the top-tier of college football.
“You’re kind of starstruck when a lower team goes to play schools like that,” Cutler said. “I’ve never played in front of 100,000 people. I’ve never seen 100,000 people in one area before in my life. It was so loud. I barely heard the snap. It was just different, and you have to lock in for it.”
The experiences and the belief in the tape he put together from a full season of starting prompted him to put his name in the portal.
“Every kid has dreamed about playing football at the highest level if you’re a football player,” Cutler said. “Everyone dreams about playing at the ‘Bamas, the Georgias, the Michigans, Ohio States, Oregons, Texas, all that. Being on the national stage, it’s any kid’s dream. If you want to make it big, that’s what you want to do. After this season, I felt I proved I could do that.”
He heard from a mix of schools once he entered the portal, ranging from major conference schools such as Mississippi and Penn State to programs in the Football Bowl Subdivision and Historically Black Colleges.
He said he heard from a mix of schools once he entered the portal, including Mississippi and Penn State. Before the push from Ohio State, he looked closely at North Texas, which had added former Louisiana Monroe quarterback Chandler Rogers this month. Cutler even visited the school.
The first 11 years of Cutler’s life were spent in Detroit before his family moved to Louisiana for his father’s job with JPMorgan Chase. The proximity to Michigan as part of his early upbringing made him a fan of the Wolverines, but a decade later, it was their archrival that gave him a shot on the biggest stage in the sport.
"Everyone’s been asking me 'Oh my God, how can you play for Ohio State? You're a Michigan fan,' " Cutler said. "I said, 'I’m not a Michigan fan anymore, I’m a Buckeye.' "
Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.