STATESBORO, Ga. - Wide receiver Reggie McCutchen had a reputation before his first steps onto Georgia Southern's football practice field Thursday.
"The kids on the team had a chance to run against him and they all say he's fast," Eagles coach Mike Sewak said. "Maybe that says more than numbers."
If things work out, McCutchen could be just what the team needs for its vertical passing attack - a speedster who will keep defensive backs off the line of scrimmage.
Last season, the 6-foot, 160-pounder ran the 100-, 200- and 400-meter sprints for the University of Florida track and field squad.
At Stephenson High, he was a two-time All-American in indoor and outdoor track. He says he ran the 40 in 4.39 in high school, but he's faster now.
"Football has always been my love," McCutchen said. "I haven't played football in 1 1/2 years, but maybe that's good because I haven't been hit."
A sophomore who would be eligible right away, McCutchen wants to find out what the collegiate game is all about. He played wide receiver for four years in high school, but the Gators weren't interested. He looked to Tulane, but had problems transferring.
Former Georgia Southern assistant Joey Houston, now with the Green Wave, recommended the Eagles.
"The size of the school doesn't really matter to me," McCutchen said. "(Being at a smaller school), you're not thrown in a big pool (of athletes). You get more attention. Division I-AA programs seem to have more pride than I-A programs."
A lot of the pride associated with Georgia Southern football centers around the nation's best running attack. The Eagles averaged fewer than 10 passing attempts a game last season; a deep threat could help the running game even more.
"(McCutchen) is a long strider. He moves well in open space right now, but we'll see how he reacts when he gets to put pads on," Sewak said. "Sometimes (receivers) toughen up with the pads on, sometimes they soften up."
The Eagles have room for a wide receiver. Derrick Owens, who started 13 of the team's 14 games last season, finished his eligibility. Veterans P.J. Cantrell and Eric Irby have combined for only five career catches. Highly regarded Teddy Craft is a redshirt freshman.
The Eagles, however, expect more from receivers than catching.
"You have to check your ego at the door because you have to block," said Greg Hill, GSU's wide receiver coach. "(McCutchen) can run, but he'll have to prove himself in other areas. He has a long way to go."
POSITION: Wide receiver
HEIGHT: 6 feet
WEIGHT: 160 pounds
HOMETOWN: Ellenwood, Ga.
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