Commentary

Cuttino plays waiting game in NFL draft

For Stony Brook's star running back, there's nothing left to do but sit back -- and hope

Updated: April 23, 2010, 6:08 PM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

Conte Cuttino knows he isn't the running back general managers are going to be talking about during the second day of the NFL draft on Friday night at Radio City Music Hall.

He has talked to teams like the Jets, but the Stony Brook football player doesn't have the brand of an Ohio State or USC to get his name out there. So he tweets, blogs and sends his video to anyone who can help him get closer to his dream of playing in the NFL.

[+] EnlargeConte Cuttino
Mark Von Holden/Getty Images for ESPNStony Brook's Conte Cuttino has blogged, tweeted and -- most importantly -- sold himself with his play on the field.

"It's definitely important considering the school I've come from," Cuttino said. "I never had games broadcast nationally. It's important to let people know who I am."

He can tout his 3,067 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns for the Seawolves, his 2007 MVP award, his status as the school's all-time leading rusher, but now there's nothing left to do but wait.

He could go in the sixth round, but he could easily be one of the players who gets a phone call after the draft is over. Even though he doesn't expect to go in the first two days, as a potential undrafted player he has three full days of watching and anticipation on tap this year.

Rob Turner, an undrafted player and current offensive lineman for the Jets, has some simple advice for anyone in Cuttino's situation.

"Don't watch it," Turner said.

Get out of the house, get away from the television. Take a cell phone, but go bowling, fish, anything to get your mind out of the watching and waiting. Turner remembers the anxiety of sitting with family and friends, and seeing them become nervous for him as the hours elapsed.

Even though Cuttino doesn't expect to go in the first two days, he still watched the Thursday night telecast. He's spent the week attending draft-related functions and meeting players like Jacksonville's Rashad Jennings, who said to keep his draft party limited to people who knew how hard he had to work to get there.

The 5-10, 200-pound Cuttino grew up in Uniondale, and grew up watching the Jets and thinking he might play for Hofstra. That might not have worked out, but proving people wrong can be a powerful motivator.

Turner's teammate Mike DeVito, a defensive lineman who was also undrafted, said he got phone calls from teams during the seventh round, only to see them call other names when their final turn arrived. DeVito, who is going into his fourth season, does smile now when he thinks about how he's proved each of those teams wrong.

Cuttino plans to have two TVs set up: one for the draft and one to distract him. He characterizes his conversations with the Jets in particular as very positive, but has no idea what will happen.

Tony Richardson, the Jets fullback going into his 17th season after being an undrafted player picked up by the Cowboys, had some very simple advice. Most of the players in his draft class are long gone, but he will start at fullback again this season.

"It's not where you start, it's where you finish," Richardson said.

Jane McManus is a columnist for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow her on Twitter.

Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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