Victor Cutler could hardly believe how many college football programs he heard from after he entered the transfer portal earlier this month.
Ohio State, Penn State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and Louisville were among the most prominent schools that made offers to Cutler. Wyoming, North Texas and many of the Sun Belt schools he spent the past four years playing against reached out, too. Cutler became overwhelmed with joy as he realized how many options he would have for where he would finish out his college football career.
“I'm really blessed. I've been thanking God. I almost broke down and cried when I was getting so many offers out of the portal,” Cutler recalled. “It was just like so crazy to me because like, this never happened to me before.”
As a prospect out of high school, Cutler was rated as just a two-star recruit. His only FBS offer came from his hometown school, Louisiana-Monroe, where he started 21 games over the past three seasons including all 12 of the Warhawks’ 2022 games at left tackle. But Cutler always aspired to play at the highest level, which is why he opted to enter the transfer portal with two remaining years of eligibility.
“I just felt like I wanted better for myself,” Cutler told Eleven Warriors on Wednesday. “I mean, every kid’s dream is to play Power 5 football. Everyone dreams about going to the Bamas, the LSUs, the Georgias, the Ohio States, Michigans. Everyone dreams about going to these top schools. And so I felt like after last season, I felt like I had shown the capability and I feel like I've shown the world that I can play at that level. Even though I was at a small school, I still held my own against bigger competition.”
Ohio State offensive line coach Justin Frye reached out to Cutler two days after he entered the transfer portal. It didn’t take long for Frye to make a big impression on Cutler, and that relationship was the biggest reason why Cutler committed to Ohio State on Wednesday.
“He texted me almost every day, asked me what I want to do better to be a better football player. What do I think my flaws were, and just his knowledge of the game, it's just something I've never heard before,” Cutler said. “Like I thought, you know, being in college for four years, I think I know a pretty good bit about offensive line. But nah, he just showed me I'm just scratching the surface.
“I want him to coach me to be the best version of me. And I feel like Ohio State will give me the best opportunity to get to the next level eventually.”
Frye told Cutler he was impressed by what he saw from Cutler’s game film against Alabama and Texas last season, but what really impressed Cutler about Frye was that Frye told him what he needs to do better and how Ohio State can help him get better.
“He said he's watched my Alabama and my Texas game last year, and I did really good in those games. I mean, there was an article that said I had like a basically 85% pass grade (from Pro Football Focus) against Alabama,” Cutler said. “But he still told me all my flaws and where I went wrong and everything. So he was just telling me what I could work on. He was telling me all my strengths. And he was telling me what I could get better at. And he was telling me that he could tell I never trained my flaws. And he was like, ‘When I'm done with you, there is going to be no flaws with you.’ So it just makes sense to go play for him.”
Cutler signed with the Buckeyes on Wednesday after a two-day visit to Ohio State. He’ll be back in Columbus on Monday to officially enroll at Ohio State. As of Wednesday night, though, he said it was still sinking in that he’s really about to be a Buckeye.
“This has been my dream for so long. And I even told my parents, I was like, it still doesn't even feel real,” Cutler said. “Like when I signed earlier this morning, I was just like, ‘Dang, like, it's official now.’ But it just doesn't feel real because like, this has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, and it's finally coming true.”
Dream come true pic.twitter.com/IBUVByamNz— V!c (@CutlerVictor) January 18, 2023
Cutler said he also considered going to North Texas because of the opportunity to be coached by 2009 No. 2 overall NFL draft pick Jason Smith, who is now an offensive analyst for the Mean Green. The chance to play for “one of the top programs in the nation,” however, helped put Ohio State over the top.
Cutler is also excited about having the opportunity to play in a big city in the Midwest, as he grew up in Detroit before moving to Monroe, Louisiana, as a teenager. He admits he was a Michigan fan growing up, but he certainly won’t be anymore.
“Being from that state, you're kind of born and raised to hate that team,” Cutler said in reference to Ohio State. “But now that I'm here, hey, I don't care about Michigan no more. I’m a Buckeye now.”
While Cutler played mostly at tackle at ULM, he’s likely to play on the interior offensive line at Ohio State. He started four games at center for ULM in 2021 and has been told by Frye he’ll be competing for the Buckeyes’ starting center job this spring.
That said, Cutler believes he has the athleticism and ability to play any of the five spots on the offensive line as needed.
“I really don't feel like any position’s my best position. I know I'm versatile,” said Cutler, who is currently 6-foot-3 and 302 pounds. “I know it’s going to help me a lot because I know the difference between what a tackle has to do and what an interior lineman has to do. I've even played guard during practices before, so I know what all the offensive linemen do.
“I know the mentality, I know how to think at different positions. I can't go in as a center thinking like a tackle. I can't go in at tackle thinking like a center. So I mean, just having the experience starting so many games at different positions, I know that’ll help.”
While Cutler could play at Ohio State for two seasons, his goal is to earn a starting job this year and play well enough to establish himself as a 2024 NFL draft prospect.
“I plan on getting my work in, have a breakout season this year, and if I'm good enough, have a high enough draft stock,” Cutler said. “But if not, I have no problem coming back and playing another year.”
“I want (Justin Frye) to coach me to be the best version of me. And I feel like Ohio State will give me the best opportunity to get to the next level eventually.”– Victor Cutler on transferring to Ohio State
Cutler recognizes he won’t simply be given a starting spot at Ohio State. Other candidates to start at center for the Buckeyes in 2023 include Matt Jones, who could either move to center or stay at the right guard position he started at this past season, and Jakob James, who was Ohio State’s second-team center in 2022.
But Cutler is hungry to prove he’s capable of being a starter at Ohio State, and he says that hunger is what Buckeye fans will see whenever he does get the chance to play.
“They're gonna see a kid that had a dream and he's living out his dream and is going to try his hardest to keep his dream alive for as long as possible,” Cutler said. “They're gonna see a person that's actually truly dedicated. Someone that's actually humble and just is grateful to be there. I'm not that person that just feels like he deserves everything ... they're gonna really see how much I truly love this game and how much I really care about football.”