By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with former LSU linebacker Jacob Cutrera. Cutrera was recruited by Les Miles and played for the Tigers from 2006-2009. He made an immediate impact both on defense as well as LSU’s kick coverage units. He was a solid contributor during his four seasons always playing at a high level when needed. He would play in 49 games, starting six times. Jacob finished his LSU career with 172 total tackles, 12 tackles for losses and one sack. He graduated in December of 2009 with a degree in general studies.
He played in the NFL for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Q - What is your favorite TV Show?
Jacob - One of my buddies mentioned that I needed to watch a fairly new TV series on HBO called Ozark. So right now that's my favorite. I'm hooked into it and binge watching it like crazy with this coronavirus going on.
Q - What is your favorite food?
Jacob - I'm really not a picky eater when it comes to food. But what would my last meal be? It would be boiled crawfish until I’d pop..
Q - Who is your favorite pro athlete?
Jacob - My favorite pro athlete of all time, ... when I was a kid, my brother and I were really big into the 1990s Chicago Bulls, and of course Michael Jordan. With that documentary coming out how could you not pick him? He was just extraordinary to watch and it's fascinating now to see, as me playing in a professional sport. I kind of know the ins-and-outs and it's kind of similar across the board with basketball and football the way that teams are run. It's fascinating to see now and what I thought back then, as how everything goes down behind closed doors. I'm really enjoying that TV series.
Q - Who are your favorite sports teams that you enjoy following?
Jacob - LSU is number one. Always has been, always will be. I watch professional stuff but If I have a professional team that I pull for, it would be the two teams that I played for, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Q - Who is your favorite music artist?
Jacob - Music, man, I really can't pick out a favorite. It really depends on my mood. I can listen to country and then go straight into rock, then hip hop. I really don't have a preference when it comes to music. Before I would play a game I would just about blow my eardrums out with some heavy rock. That would get me going. A little hip-hop here and there. Yea, my ears would be ringing when I take my headphones off.
Q - What is your favorite movie?
Jacob - I'm an ex-football player and ex-linebacker so I enjoy contact and violent things. So I like the old gladiator-style movies. My favorite was the movie Troy with Brad Pitt. I thought it was a great movie. Nothing has topped that since. I like the entire Rocky series also.
Q - Who is your favorite actor?
Jacob - That's a tough one. There are so many good ones. I really enjoyed funny movies , so Will Ferrell comes to mind. That's the type of humor that I really enjoy.
Q - I see you're from Lafayette. Have you pretty much lived there all your life?
Jacob - Yes. Born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. My parents are from the Morgan City area. But, yes. I grew up in Lafayette.
Q - When you were a little boy, what did you want to grow up to be?
Jacob - My family is a big sports family. My mom played tennis here in Lafayette at ULL. My aunt played tennis at UL-Monroe, which was called North Eastern Louisiana at the time and she is in the Hall of Fame over there. So growing up we were playing tennis, football, baseball, basketball, whatever the season was or the flavor of the day, we were doing it. I always dreamed of myself doing something in the sports world.
Q - Did you play multiple sports at Acadiana High School?
Jacob - I did. Up until high school I played basketball, I ran track, played baseball, and of course football. When I got to high school I played football, but they had a conflict with you playing track, basketball, and baseball. I chose the sport that I thought I was the best in, and that was baseball. So I played baseball my freshman and sophomore year but then I tore my labrum in my throwing arm playing football and that put a damper on my baseball season. From there on out I ran track. Contrary to popular belief, I could actually move pretty good. I was on the 4x1 team and I was the anchor. Was on the 4x2 team and also ran the 200. I enjoyed that and I think that if your a football prospect who has dreams of playing football on the next level, that track is maybe the best thing that you could possibly do for yourself. Especially if you're looking to get better and want to improve your speed. Not being able to play baseball was like a blessing in disguise, because it allowed me to run track and to train, get faster, stronger, and more explosive.
Q - Want to tell us about any memoriable personal and/or team accomplishments while playing at Acadiana High School?
Jacob - Up until my senior year at Acadiana we had never gone as far as the semi-finals and lost.. Never had Acadiana made it to the finals. My graduation year was 2006. 2005 was when Hurricane Katrina hit.
Obviously we couldn't play in the Dome my senior year. Actually we beat Hahnville in the semi-final game and advanced to the state championship. With the Superdome in the condition it was in after Katrina, they moved the game to Shreveport, Louisiana and we played in Independence Bowl stadium. It was a cold night and we were playing number one ranked West Monroe. They had a ton of guys that went on the play college ball. I'm really the only guy from my team that went on to play big time D1 football. I think we were just inexperience on that level of play. It was a good game until the very end. They got late touchdowns that made the score look worse than it actually was. It was a hard-fought game. I wish that we could play it over again and Acadiana could go into it with the same confidence that they have now. Now they just walk into a stadium and they know they're going to win. They just have that type of attitude and it takes that type of attitude to have the winning program that they have now. l look at it like we were the building blocks to where they are at now. I'm proud of my school and I wish nothing but the best for them going forward.
Q - Can you tell us how your recruiting process went?
Jacob - There was so many. Once a big school offers you, it's like monkey see-monkey do. All the rest of them pretty much fall right in line. I think Ole Miss was my first one, then they just started pouring in.
Then I ended up getting invited to LSU Junior Day with all the top prospects in the state and in the surrounding areas. A guy comes up to me and my parents and says, “Hey, would you mind walking with us? Coach Miles wants to talk to you in his office.” .. We go talk with him and he offers me on the spot. .. I grew up such a die-hard fan. Growing up in my house, it wasn't about any professional team. It wasn't the Saints, or anything else, it was all LSU. Me being so young and with LSU being my absolute dream school, I committed on the spot.
The only regret I do have is not taking my official visits to other schools. I wish I would have done that. But I had no interest at all in going to any other school.
Ole Miss had offered me and at that time Coach O was their head coach. I had no interest in going to Ole Miss whatsoever. But when I tell you that he called me. He called me, it wasn't any assistant. He would call me a couple of times a week, every week until I signed the papers my senior year to go to LSU. I remember telling my dad, "Hey, Dad I'm not going to Ole Miss, but I'm starting to really like this dude. He's awesome.” .. He just has a way with guys that he can relate to you. There are some recruiters that you come across, you speak to them and they really can't relate to a younger person. But Coach O just has it. It shows in the recruiting classes that he's bringing in currently at LSU. You can just tell that he has that relentless mindset, that he's going to get you no matter what. But LSU had a lot of talent there that Junior Day and I was one of the few that they decided to offer that day. I'm very fortunate.
I was actually concerned, because Nick Saban and his staff was recruiting me. When he left to go to Miami I was worried about what was going to happen. But sure enough Coach Miles picked up right where they left off. Everything just worked out great. I had committed so the pressure was off of me in the sense that I could now just focus on my senior year and not have to really worry about all these other schools and talking to all these other guys.
Q - Can you tell us a little about Les Miles?
Jacob - Coach Miles is an extraordinary guy. He truly cares for his players, his team, and their well-being. You come across some of these other coaches that it’s strictly business with them. They don't ask you anything about your personal life. They don’t ask how your mom and dad are doing. Every time I got to speak with Coach Miles one on one, he would always ask how my dad was doing. He just loved my dad and my family. That made me feel good. I know he cared and he would always say, “You and your dad have the same kind of relationship as me and my dad, and I appreciate that.”
He is just a good wholesome guy. I was sad to see him go but I thought his time was kind of running out. Coaching at LSU and playing there is a stressful situation. The pressure to win is always there. I felt more pressure to win at LSU then I did on any NFL team that I played on and that's just crazy. I just thought that teams were getting a beat on what we were doing at LSU and kind of figuring us out. I think the timing of the change was right. But I have nothing but good things to say about Coach Miles and the way he ran things when I was there.
Q - Tell us about any favorite games or moments you have from being a LSU Tiger?
Jacob - There are so many. Maybe something that everyone doesn’t know, the fans out there, but during the 2007 national championship year, as you know we lost two games that year, both came in double overtime. We were playing in the SEC Championship game against Tennessee and had just beat them, and I to get into the National championship game, two or three other teams needed to lose. All of the stars aligned in those teams ended up losing.
We were on our way back home from just winning the SEC Championship Game and I'll never forget. It's a little more relaxed when you charter a plane. They have rules but they don't really apply. There is a lot more moving around and you don't need to keep your seat belt on. No one is really enforcing stuff like that. Some of the players were playing cards and others are just talking among themselves.
The pilot comes on and he announces that the last team that we needed to lose, lost. As soon as he does that everyone starts jumping up and down and is going crazy. Well the weirdest thing that I have never experienced on a flight, and I've experienced bad turbulence, and all kind of things. But everything's on the plane went dark. All the lights went out. It felt like the engine shut off. I'm not kidding. Then we free fall for what felt like forever. We didn't nose dive, it just felt like the bottom fell out of the plane and we just dropped, we were dropping. Suddenly, all the lights and everything came back on and everyone's looking around, freaking out and screaming, “What’s going on!” .. The weirdest thing was the pilot never came on to tell us what just happened or to tell us that everything was alright. He just went about going home as normal and everyone's just sitting in their seats all freaked out. It was a roller coaster of emotions for sure. I don't know if that story is out there, but now it is.
Then there's winning the National Championship in 2007. A lot of my best moments obviously happened during that year. In the moment in that National Championship year, you’re so focused on what you need to do, that it's hard for you to enjoy the moment as a player. You're so focused on obtaining that goal and you can’t really enjoy the process that's actually going on around you. You can, but you can't. So this year, I as a fan and a former player really really enjoyed watching them play and couldn't be happier for them. That Championship was for every former player. That was for every Tiger out there. It was really special to be there and witness all that. All the stuff that you don't get to do as a player, that the fans get to enjoy. That was special for me.
Q - Tell us about your NFL career?
Jacob - I came off a good senior year. I thought I played pretty well. Well enough to get drafted. Ended up not getting drafted and signed a free-agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. My agent and I felt like that was the best opportunity for me to make the team and play somewhere.
That's one thing about LSU, we set a record in this year's draft with the amount of players that were drafted, which is incredible and special. It speaks volumes for the program that we have there.
To that point, what doesn't get talked about much is that if you go to LSU and you don't get drafted, it's not the end of the world. Every guy out there who has the desire to play in the NFL, if you go to LSU you will get a shot. A chance somewhere. You will go to camp and you'll have an opportunity. With most schools that's not the case. LSU has a program that is respected so much around the country and by the NFL that just by going to LSU, opportunities arise. The respect is there and it's noticed big time among the NFL.
I went to Jacksonville and worked my butt off. Beat out a few drafted guys which was really cool for me. Then making the 53 man roster was a special thing. I spent about a year-and-a-half over there and got bumped down to the practice squad. When you're on a practice squad any team can pick you up and put you on their 53-man roster.
Almost immediately Tampa Bay grabbed me and I was fortunate to now only be 3 hours away from where I was living. So that worked out great.
Another Funny Story is... That all happened in I believe week five. Tampa had won three or four games at the time. They were having a pretty good season, and my first game there we played the Saints in Tampa. We ended up beating the crap out of them. I remember calling my dad and saying, “Man, dad I think we are really good. I think we will make it to the playoffs.” .. Well after that we didn't win a single game the rest of the season and the entire coaching staff ended up getting fired.
I played another year and ended up getting a few concussions. My fourth year in a preseason game against Miami, I got another concussion right after we had our daughter a few days before.
I had seen a neurologist before going into that season and they were kind of hinting towards that I shouldn’t play anymore. They really couldn’t tell me one way or the other, but did tell me once you keep getting them the way I was, the symptoms seem to last longer and longer. I ended up getting another one and sure enough they were right.
At that point I made a decision. After the team put me on IR, I decided I was done. I got four years in and proved that I can play at this level. There was nothing really else for me to prove. I'll take the health that I have with me now and hopefully live a longer life because of it.
Q - Can't you tell us a little about what you're doing now for a career?
Jacob - After that 2014 season my wife, new born little girl and I decided to move back to Louisiana. We ended up choosing my home town, Lafayette. I took about a year off, just wanting to cool off for a little bit.
An ex-teammate of mine, Ace Foyil was working at Stryker Orthopaedics at the time. He was with the general manager of Stryker and Ace had just saw one my brother in the hospital, who sells medical devices as well. He asked how I was doing and what I was up to these days. My brother told him and apparently the manager of Stryker told Ace to call me and see if I'd be interested in a position in Lafayette. He called and I heard it out and six interviews later I end up getting the job. The job was, basically we have the implants that replace total knees, total hips, shoulders.
I did that for four years and now I'm with a Johnson & Johnson Company called Ethicon. So we are in surgery. We are known for our sutures but we have everything from surgical stapling to electro-surgery stuff, bio-surgery stuff. We could be in any kind of surgery case in really any specialty. Day to day I'm in the hospitals and in surgeries.
My pardner and I have 25 hospitals that we cover, so we stay pretty busy and I'm enjoying it.
Also my dad and a few other guys like Craig Steltz, some former players that are buddies of mine. Josh Scobey, I played with him in Jacksonville, he was our kicker. Also John Parker Wilson, former quarterback from Alabama, and Smylie Kaufman, we all are owners for a 'Walk-Ons' in Hoover, Alabama. We just opened up in late December.
Q - Is there anything you want to tell the LSU fans?
Jacob - The LSU fans are like no other fan base in the Country. I haven't seen any other that can come close to them. The passion and the love that they have for their teams and their school doesn't go unnoticed. I can tell you that the players really enjoy their support. Thank you...