Complete Jay Cutler press conference transcript

Below is the complete text of Jay Cutler's Jan. 10 press conference to announce he was staying at Vanderbilt. Cutler, a fourth-year junior who has started at quarterback for the Commodores for the past three seasons, looked into turning pro over the semester break but ultimately opted to return for 2005, his final season of eligibility.


Opening statement by Jay Cutler: Thanks for coming. It's been a difficult decision. A lot of factors went into this - my teammates, of course, we've grown so close especially over the last couple of weeks, my loyalty to this university, the program, the coaching staff which has had a lot of trust and put a lot of responsibility on me throughout the past three years and given me the start as a redshirt freshman, the NFL evaluation which was extremely positive and made me seriously consider what I was going to do in the future of my career, my aspirations to play in the NFL. I've dreamed of doing that for a long time now, and it's starting to become a reality, and I had an opportunity possibly to do it.

So a lot of things went into this decision. My family, of course, they've been very supportive. This coaching staff has been extremely supportive in whatever decision I wanted to make. But in saying all that I'm extremely excited about what's happening here, and I've decided to stay one more year. We're getting good recruits in here, and the coaching staff is doing everything they can to make me a better player and make this team even better and more competitive. So I'm excited. Any questions?

The Press: When did you change your mind? Were you headed to the NFL?

JC: I was always staying. I was just looking for that turning point to make me to leave. I wanted to be here another year. I've enjoyed my time here. The coaching staff's been great. I love my teammates dearly. There was never any change. There just wasn't enough to convince me to leave.

The Press: When did you get your NFL evaluation back?

JC: This past Tuesday, I got it back.

The Press: There were positives on there, were there also negatives on there that . . .?

JC: They really don't go into a lot of specifics. They just give you kind of a general overview of where they think you might go, and what they think might happen. So, it was positive, and it gave me some confidence in where I thought I was as a player, and what else I need to work on.

The Press: Where did they say you were going to go?

JC: I'm not getting into all that, but it was good.

The Press: Did getting beat up last year impact your thinking about possibility going to the pros?

JC: Any quarterback takes hits. It's part of the job. We struggled at times to try to protect me, but I've got all the trust in the world in my line and in the coaching staff to do whatever it takes to win ball games. And we're going to work on that in the off-season, and we're going to take it from there. But that really wasn't something that I really took into consideration. My health is good. I've never really suffered anything serious - knock on wood! - and hopefully that'll continue.

The Press: Jay, what about the disappointment of last year with you guys starting off thinking you were a bowl team?

JC: We lost five games by 15 points. We still are a good team. We were a good team last year, we just didn't get a lot of the breaks. You take a few things early in the season, and you never know what happens. But it's been the case for quite a few years right now, so there's still some stuff left that I want to do here. Obviously, win games is one of those things, and I'm looking forward to next year.

The Press: But how much did your frustration over that factor into thinking about . .

JC: Oh, I think it was a large part, especially early. I didn't really want to make a decision early like some of the guys did, but definitely those first couple of weeks after us losing those games, and the season's over, you reflect and you think that you might not want to come back. But after taking some time to think about it, and talking with coaches and teammates, it's definitely in the interest of myself and this team for me to return.

The Press: What did they indicate to you that you need to work on to increase your stock?

JC: There were probably a lot of things, accuracy, winning games - that's definitely going to help. If we win football games, I think everything - stats - is going to take care of itself.

The Press: Did you talk to Coach Johnson before you made your final decision?

JC: Hm-hm. I talked to him last night. He's up in Louisville, and he called a couple of times, and I missed his calls, but I got in touch with him, and he was happy to hear it.

The Press: Did you talk to him as far as weighing . . .

JC: Yeah, I talked to him a couple of times throughout it. As soon as I got back from the Tennessee game after Thanksgiving, I talked with him and told him that I wanted to explore that option of the NFL. He totally agreed and understood and thought I definitely should do that. He thought I had the talent to do it, but obviously, he wanted me to stay, that's in the best interest of him and this team. So he was very supportive of that whole decision, and I'm glad I'm staying.

The Press: How much input did you get from your teammates, especially with what's been going on with this program the last few weeks?

JC: Oh, a lot. This team is very close, and there's a lot of guys on this team that I trust with everything. So I talked to quite a few guys. A lot of guys were in town [because of Kwane's death]. His death brought us even closer and made some of us realize how important this team is and how much we really put into this stuff. It was definitely something I took into consideration.

The Press: Did you talk to Matthew Tant?

JC: (Smiles.) He's my roommate, so I talk to that kid every day, so, yeah, I talked to him. He thought I should definitely come back as well. Matt's situation is a little different. He did what he thought was best for him and his family. I support him, and he thought what I was doing was best for me.

The Press: If you look like a guy like Jason Campbell, a year ago he wasn't on anybody's draft board. This year they go 13-0, and they're talking about him going late in the first round or early in the second . . .

JC: Playing quarterback, you win games. There's a lot politics in it, and a lot of different aspects go into it - who your teammates are, who surrounds you, your skill people, your line, there's a lot of things - who you play, how many games you win. There's a lot of things that go into where you're at as a quarterback. I feel good about my chances, and I'm excited about next year, and I'm ready to get back to work.

The Press: Was there any point during the year when you were seeing very little of the team and when you were thinking-

JC: Definitely. There was definitely a time when I was thinking, hey, if I get a shot to leave, I'm definitely going to take it. But that's another thing-I didn't want to make a quick decision. I wanted to take a lot of time to think about it and talk to some people close to this organization and some people that have no stock in this organization at all, and see what both sides thought, and there were a lot of different opinions, but I think this is the best one. Top Stories