Brock Nutter’s Last Stand

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 1, 2001

Sports Editor

For the past five years Brock Nutter and Troy State football have went hand-in-hand.

Nutter came to TSU in 1997, was redshirted his freshman year, and now enters the 2001 season as a veteran fifth-year senior facing a challenging 11 game schedule which features some of the more prominent teams in college football today.

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Nebraska. Miami. Mississippi State.

Big Red. The ‘Canes. Cowbells, Jackie Sherrill and the Bulldogs.

In the Trojans’ transition season into Division 1-A, Athletic Director Johnny Williams has made sure Nutter, head coach Larry Blakeney and the rest of the TSU football team will receive their "baptism by fire" into the NCAA’s top level of competitive collegiate football.

On Nov. 17, in the Trojans last game of the year against rival Jacksonville State, Nutter will play his last game as a Troy State football player. There’s nothing after that game to look forward to. No Division 1-AA playoffs and a chance to play for a national title as in the last four years. No Southland Football League Championship to work for during the season and no possibility of a bowl game since the 2001 Trojans are neither 1-A nor 1-AA.

But in Greenville on Monday, Nutter seemed content with the Trojans’ move to the college football’s upper echelon and content with how his career has unfolded at Troy State.

"In the first place, I came to Troy State to win championships. We’ve accomplished that," he said. With Nutter at the helm, TSU won the SFL back-to-back in 1999 and 2000. "That makes this year a little bit easier to cope with coming in. I don’t have anything else to prove."

In five years, Nutter has proven a lot. He has passed for 5,234 yards and thrown 34 touchdowns. He’s started 37 consecutive games and won 28 of them. Nutter ranks No. 2 in the Trojan record books in passing yards, attempts, completions and touchdowns behind former TSU quarterback Sim Byrd. By the end of this season, Nutter could very well be ranked as the No. 1 quarterback in Troy State football history.

Even as history looms before him, Nutter approaches this year the same as he has the last four seasons; with the idea of getting better. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business in the spring and has spent much of the summer working with the Troy State receiving corps, still learning the intricate workings of new offensive coordinator John Shannon’s "Trojan Spread Offense".

"The last month or so we’ve been working with the new schemes and getting reps in," Nutter said. "It’s been vital for us and the receivers. This way, next week, when we go into camp and two-a-days, we’ll all be on the same page and know what we’re doing."

A week ago, in Birmingham, Nutter made the comment that he would have liked to see the Trojans make the jump to 1-A with the 1999 team, a team that featured two future NFL draftees (Mookie Moore and Mareno Philyaw) and four others that signed free agent contracts (Aaron Fields, Al Lucas, Lenny Lucas and Eric Sloan). Six other players off that squad, who were juniors in ’99, signed free agent contracts with the NFL in the spring and wide out Jonathan Carter was drafted by the Giants.

"I’m not taking anything away from what we have now, but you have to face the facts," Nutter said. "We don’t nearly have the receivers that we had in ’99 and our defensive line was just great. We had (Anthony) Rabb at linebacker and some great defensive backs. It’s easy for me to pick out that team, because I’ve been here so long and that’s the one I feel that was most equipped for a jump like this. We had a lot in both 1999 and 2000, but we were just cut short in the playoffs."

Nutter said he knew a redshirt season in 1997 would give him the opportunity to lead the Trojans into the next great stage if its football history.

"I knew that if I was redshirted then I would have a chance to play 1-A football. That kind of sparked me. I wanted to be the quarterback to guide us there and now we’re going out this year to let everyone know we can compete in 1-A," he said.

The Hoover native also knows that being competitive requires time.

"It’s not going to happen in one year, but it can happen five or ten years down the road."

He also admits that when he was redshirted and knew he would be playing Division 1-A football by his senior year, Lincoln, Neb. was the furthest thing from his mind.

"I had no idea what our schedule was going to look like," he said, joking.