In fact, he talked about it with Dolphins wide receivers coach Ken O’Keefe after he was reunited with his former college offensive coordinator in mid-May.
“I tell Coach O’Keefe all the time, if we would have used NFL balls in college, I would have still been a quarterback,” McNutt says with a smile.
That’s in the past now, though, for McNutt, and so is his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, who drafted him in the sixth round of the 2012 draft, used him in four games as a rookie, yet decided to let him go this spring.
It’s all about the Dolphins now for McNutt, and he plans on making the most of his new opportunity.
“You’ve got a place where you think you’re about to get another opportunity to kind of show yourself another year and then they let you go,” McNutt said. “You kind of go through the emotion of just, I guess, anger more so for the fact that you just didn’t do what you needed to while you were there. But then the fact that the Dolphins picked you up off waivers, you get excited because you come to a place where somebody wants you and gives you a second chance to show what you’re really worth.”
McNutt didn’t a catch a pass in those four games with Philadelphia last fall, but he sure caught a lot of passes for O’Keefe at Iowa.
In fact, by the time he left school, McNutt had become the school’s all-time leading receiver with 170 catches for 2,861 yards and 28 touchdowns. Mind you, those numbers were accomplished in three seasons.
In those three years at wide receiver, McNutt scored 8, 8 and 12 touchdowns. His senior season was spectacular all around, as he finished with 82 receptions for 1,315 yards and those 12 scores.
Those accomplishments, however, aren’t going to help him earn a spot on a Dolphins wide receiver corps that was bolstered by the offseason acquisitions of
“Right now it’s not even a concern,” the 6-foot-2, 216-pound McNutt said about making the team. “I think that’s where I was at a loss last year — I was more concerned about the 53 rather than being concerned about just actually going out there and doing what I know I can do and being able to play the game of football.
“I hope I can show that I can bring a consistent catcher. That’s the No. 1 key as a receiver — you’ve got to catch the ball. And (there’s also) the fact that I’m a lot more explosive than people think I am.”
At the very least, McNutt ended the spring practices on a high note, catching a
Another spring highlight, this one off the field, occurred before his first practice with Miami when he met Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino.
“I was at the clinic getting a physical,” McNutt recalled. “I just happened to get in the elevator, somebody held the door for me. Sure enough, it was Dan Marino and I, like, really gasped. I’m like, you’re Dan Marino. He said hi to me and whatever and shook my hand and I was a little surprised because most times my hand isn’t the smaller hand when I’m shaking people’s hands. So it was a real cool experience just to meet Dan Marino, all-time great.
“I was like so in awe at that moment, I didn’t want to talk to him too much.”
McNutt grew up in the St. Louis area and his idol growing up was baseball Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, who just so happened to get his hair cut at the same place as he did. McNutt was a three-sport athlete in high school, but his dream of following in Smith’s footsteps were dashed because he’s a lefty and he was told left-handers can’t play shortstop.
McNutt actually didn’t play football until his sophomore year of high school because his mother wouldn’t let him. He chose to play football in college because he said the scholarship offers came earlier in that sport.
Of course, he had to deal with the setback of watching his quarterback days come to an end. Faced with the challenge of a new position, McNutt came through in a big way.
And that’s just what he plans on doing with his latest challenge with the Dolphins.