Vanderbilt’s electrifying quarterback Jay Cutler, the SEC’s leading passer in 2005 who rewrote the school record book while leading the Commodores to their best season in years, is the first player named to the roster for the 2006 Senior Bowl, presented by Food World, bowl officials announced today.
“Jay is not only an outstanding talent and individual, but also one of the most exciting players in all of college football in 2005,” said Senior Bowl media relations director Vic Knight. “He also has a tremendous future at the next level, and we’re very pleased to be able to feature his talents in this year’s Senior Bowl.”
“It’s a great honor to be selected to play, much less be the first player named to the Senior Bowl. To have NFL coaches instructing you and to gain from their experience and have the opportunity to show what you can do is a big plus,” Cutler said. “I owe a lot to my coaches at Vanderbilt who have worked with me to help my progress. I’m also looking forward to the opportunity of playing with and against many of the nation’s best players in the Senior Bowl.”
Cutler will become the first Commodore quarterback to appear in the prestigious Senior Bowl since former Vanderbilt All-American Bill Wade played in 1952. Wade went on to an 11-year NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears.
Cutler led the Southeastern Conference with 3,073 passing yards during a remarkable senior season which saw him set numerous school passing and total offense marks.
He was also the SEC’s leader in touchdown passes with 21 and total offense with 3,288 yards, and had seven games with 275 or more passing yards.
The 6-3, 228-pounder from Santa Claus, Ind., finished his career the holder of 20 different school passing and total offense records, including career marks for total offense with 9,953, touchdown passes with 59, passing yardage with 8,697, and completions with 710.
A semifinalist for both the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards, Cutler threw for 1,071 yards and 12 TD’s in Vandy’s final three games – a 28-24 win over Tennessee and narrow losses to Florida (49-42 in 2 OT’s) and Kentucky (48-43).
Against Florida, he completed 28-42 for 361 yards and four scores in the double overtime thriller as he rallied the Commodores to 21 fourth quarter points to tie the game at 35-35 with just 54 seconds left to play.
He also became the school’s all-time career passing leader during the contest, breaking the former mark set by Greg Zolman from 1998-2001.
Against Kentucky, he set another school single game record with 39 completions, good for 395 yards and school record-tying five touchdowns.
In the upset victory over Tennessee, he was 27-39 for 315 yards and three more scores, the last coming with just 1:11 remaining in the game to give the Commodores their first win over the Vols since 1982. For his efforts, he was also named SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
Cutler grabbed the attention of the college football world early in the 2005 season by engineering Vanderbilt to the school’s first 4-0 start since 1984, which included thrilling victories over Wake Forest, Arkansas and Ole Miss.
A four-year starter for the Commodores who holds the school record for career starts by a quarterback with 45, Cutler threw for 1,844 yards and 10 TD’s as a junior, 2,347 and 18 scores as a sophomore, and 1,433 yards and 10 TD’s as a freshman in 2002 in becoming just the second quarterback in school history to lead the team in passing four different seasons.
The 57th annual Senior Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, January 28, 2006, in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium, with kickoff set for 3:00 p.m.
Tickets can also be ordered through the bowl’s website at www.seniorbowl.com or by calling 251-432-4109.
Media contact: Larry Leathers, (615) 343-6437