The Jaguars double-dipped on Middle Tennessee State alums in undrafted free agency this offseason.
Following the draft, the team signed running back I'Tavius Mathers and cornerback Jeremy Cutrer.
The two played under Fernandina Beach native and former Florida State quarterback Rick Stockstill at MTSU.
The Fernandina Hall of Fame inductee was able to help mold the pair before their professional careers.
Both were transfers to MTSU, so the head coach had limited time to improve their technique.
“I’Tavius, he’s the local product, so I watched him in high school,” Stockstill said in a phone conversation with First Coast News.
“He went to Ole Miss and he’s there three years, but didn’t really play a whole bunch. He played, but he was never ‘the guy.’ Jeremy went to junior college for two years, so he gets here and he’s as raw as raw can be. I think both of those guys improved drastically from the time they got here to the time they left.”
Mathers became the first player in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to produce 1,500 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards and 60 receptions in a single season during his only year of action at MTSU.
Cutrer produced 29 pass breakups and six interceptions in two seasons with Stockstill and the Blue Raiders.
“I’d like to say I’Tavius really, really improved, obviously had a great year,” Coach Stockstill said. “Jeremy, he was really inconsistent his first year, which is almost typical of a junior college guy. It takes a while to develop those guys, so I’m proud of what both of those guys accomplished while they were here.”
Mathers' size (5-11, 203 lbs.) may indicate that he is more of a third-down, shifty back. Stockstill would dispute that assumption.
“He’s got great speed, he can run, but he’s not a wiggle guy, he’s not a guy that’s going to dazzle you with a bunch of spin moves,” Stockstill said.
“He breaks tackles by putting his foot in the ground and getting north and south, by being physical and getting lower than a defender. He has broke more tackles that way than with his shiftiness and his wiggle, trying to make people miss. He has done that some, [but] most of his yards, once he passed the line of scrimmage, were from speed, running away from people and his ability to put his foot in the ground and get vertical.”
With production he had this past season, Stockstill thought Mathers would be drafted.
“Yeah, I was surprised he wasn’t drafted,” Coach Stockstill said. “I didn’t think he’d go real high, but I thought he’d be a fifth, sixth, seventh-round guy.”
Cutrer's NFL prospects drew some concern from Stockstill.
The Jaguars list the cornerback as 6-foot-1 and 167 pounds. His slender frame may be an issue for him at the next level, according to his college head coach.
“He’s got great length, I don’t think he has great size,” Stockstill said.
“He’s 160 pounds, that’s going to be his negative. You’ve got to tackle Marshawn Lynch and those guys out there, 240-250-pound backs. Even the receivers now, how big those guys are, Julio Jones and those people. He’s got great length. He’s tall like they want them, he’s got long arms like they want him, but his question mark is ‘Can he hold up physically in the NFL at 165 pounds or whatever he is now?’”
Still, Stockstill believes Cutrer has the right attitude to make the most of his opportunities with the Jaguars.
“He’s got to pay attention and he’s got to work, if he does that he’ll have a chance to make the team,” Coach Stockstill said.
“Jeremy is a good guy, his background, what he grew up in, [Hurricane] Katrina and all of that he has been exposed to, you’re not supposed to be exposed to that type of stuff at a young age. He’ll come in there with a great attitude, a workmen’s attitude. If he’ll continue to build on what he did this [past] year with us, then he’ll have a chance to be a productive player for Jacksonville.”
Mathers and Cutrer will try to make the 53-man active roster or the 10-man practice squad this offseason. In the preseason, they will also have the opportunity to audition for other teams in case they're cut by the Jaguars.
Jaguars rookie minicamp launches May 12
The Jaguars announced the team's rookie minicamp will run from Friday to Sunday this week.
The annual rookie preparation weekend will feature all seven draft picks, 16 undrafted free agents and two first-year players. They will be joined by a group of tryout players who have yet to be announced.
The rookie group is headlined by running back Leonard Fournette, offensive tackle Cam Robinson and defensive Dawuane Smoot.
The two returning first-year players are wide receiver Jamal Robinson and guard Nila Kasitati.
Fournette, Robinson, Smoot and Head Coach Doug Marrone will address the media on Saturday.
More News and Notes
- The Jaguars waived linebacker Marcus Rush on Tuesday. Rush was signed off the San Francisco 49ers' practice squad for the final two games of last season. Rush played on special teams during the final two weeks of the season.
The early release is a bit of a surprise considering the team just named him as one of the participants for rookie minicamp. He retained eligibility for the minicamp because he was active for less than eight games during his initial NFL season.
- The Chicago Bears signed former Jaguars OTTO linebacker Dan Skuta on Monday. Skuta was cut in April after two seasons with the Jaguars. He spent most of his Jacksonville tenure battling injuries and constant role changes.
Skuta joins a Bears defense led by his former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio. In 2014, Skuta had a career-year under Fangio, producing five sacks and three forced fumbles.
- In other former Jaguars news, the 49ers cut running back DuJuan Harris on Monday. The Jaguars signed Harris as undrafted free agent in 2011. He played in five games for the Jaguars, producing 46 total yards on 10 touches. He was cut before his second season in Jacksonville and has played for seven different teams since his departure.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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