Mutcherson Joins Cyclone Football Family
Ames, Iowa - National signing day is one of the most exciting days of the year in college football. It ushers in new talent, fresh faces, and a buzz of anticipation for the upcoming season. This excitement hit Iowa State on Feb. 1 as fans, coaches, and press gathered to hear Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads talk about the incoming student-athletes.
Twenty one new faces will join Cyclone roster for the 2012 season, including athletes from nine different states, a record for the Rhoads era. Three of these athletes are already on campus. Defensive back T.J. Mutcherson is in Ames, enrolled in class, and preparing to hit the field this fall.
Mutcherson was a highly recruited high school football standout, turning down offers from North Carolina, Central Michigan, and South Florida to join the Cyclones.
"You know, I had offers from other big schools, but I actually wanted to come here and make a name for myself instead of following everybody else," Mutcherson said.
Mutcherson has not followed everybody else in the least. His road to national signing day took a nontraditional course. He was not a qualifier coming out of high school. He credits this to his lack of interest in school. This factor impacted his performance in the classroom and ultimately his eligibility. He spent two years figuring out what he wanted to do. Watching his football friends play for their colleges was hard on Mutcherson. It made him miss the game. This pushed him to do a reality check.
"I actually sat down and looked in the mirror at myself and I asked myself, what do I really want to do?" Mutcherson said. "I told myself 'I really want to play football and go to school and get an education.'"
After making this choice, Mutcherson fought hard to get his grades and scores where they needed to be. He vividly remembers the day he gained his eligibility. Last November he took the ACT again, and soon after received the test results in the mail. He sat with the unopened letter for over an hour. When he finally brought himself to open it and saw the good news, he was beyond excited.
"All I did was I got on my knees and I thanked the Lord for the opportunity that he gave me. Another chance." Mutcherson said.
After becoming an academic qualifier, he decided to join the Cyclone squad in 2012. Something about Ames drew him to the program. That something was Paul Rhoads.
"There was something about Ames, Iowa and Coach Rhoads," Mutcherson said. "I like him as a person, and he showed that he was serious from day one how he always recruited me so I just stuck with Paul Rhoads."
Rhoads stuck with Mutcherson. In his Feb. 1 press conference, Rhoads expressed his excitement about the incoming class. He addressed the need for an increase of speed and athleticism on the defensive line. After signing Mutcherson and other talented athletes, Rhoads feels this class will fulfill those needs.
"We've stuck to our plan, we haven't waivered from that," Rhoads said. "We're going to recruit the right guy that fits our philosophy. We're looking for a guy with character, integrity, getting an education is important to them."
Rhoads snagged exactly these qualities when Mutcherson committed to join the Cyclones. Though he says he is a little short for a defensive end, he describes himself as a shark.
"I attack!" Mutcherson said. "I might not have height or whatever, but I believe I stick my nose in there every once in a while."
Mutcherson sees this opportunity to play for the Cyclones as a second chance, one worth capitalizing on to its fullest potential. He is aiming high, and hopes to be an immediate contributor in the fall. Though line-ups are always subject to change, Rhoads said being on campus already gives Mutcherson and the two other players a definite head-start. Mutcherson is training hard and getting to know his fellow teammates.
The Florida native is also aiming high in the classroom. He wants a 3.0 GPA. It is obvious that with his second chance, he plans to do nothing less than strive high.
"Take advantage of the opportunity you have," Mutcherson said. "It's out there on a silver plate. All you have to do is eat off of it."