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Cutts mulls football future

| Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007

It's not often that a season-ending injury is seen as a blessing, but that's how Curtis Cutts is viewing what happened to him.

Cutts, a senior strong safety for Central Michigan University's football team, suffered a season-ending injury when the pectoralis major tendon detached from the humerus bone in his left shoulder on Oct. 20 during a 70-14 loss at Clemson.

Cutts had surgery to reattach the tendon on Wednesday, and though the injury ends his college career, the Ford City graduate is focusing on the positives as he prepares for the NFL Draft.

Entering this season, NFLdraftscout.com had Cutts ranked as the No. 9 strong safety in the country who will be available on draft day. After the injury, Cutts dropped to No. 10 on the list.

"Right now, the main thing for me is getting healthy," Cutts said in a phone interview Monday. "The timing looks like I will at least give myself an opportunity to possibly play in the NFL."

Cutts will be allowed to run and do agility drills in six weeks. He said he expects to regain his upper body strength in 12 weeks. Cutts is hoping to be in good shape when he works out for professional scouts at Central Michigan's Pro Day in late March.

"I'm not allowed to lift," he said. "So, I'm focusing on my lower body and really strengthening it. The biggest question on me is my speed and how fast I run the 40 (yard dash). This is almost a blessing in disguise, me focusing strictly on what I know I need to work on.

"My hope is that getting injured doesn't scare away any teams or question my durability."

Gil Brandt, a former general manager for the Dallas Cowboys, is a draft expert for NFL.com. Brandt said that he does not have Cutts on his list of the top 42 strong safeties in the country.

"With modern medicine, guys come back stronger than before," Brandt said. "His best chance is the pro day at Central Michigan."

Brandt sited Cutts' former teammate, offensive lineman Joe Staley, who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers 28th overall in April's draft, as someone who flew under the radar until he performed at pro day.

Cutts can't sign with an agent until after Central Michigan completes its season. The Chippewas (5-4, 4-0) are undefeated in Mid-American Conference play and might play in a bowl game in January.

Cutts helped the Chippewas win a MAC championship and the Motor City Bowl game last season.

"It's definitely disappointing," Cutts said. "Going into that game, I didn't think it would be the last one of my college career. But, in the game of football, you never when your last play will take place.

"We didn't play well in the game, but I know leaving that I played my heart out. There's a little bitter taste in my mouth not knowing the future. It all comes to an end at some point. I was blessed to play at the Division I level. I still have a lot of positive memories."

Cutts was injured when he tried to tackle a Clemson receiver who was about to enter the end zone. Cutts tackled the player but didn't prevent him from scoring the touchdown. Cutt's arm got over-extended, and then landed on his left side.

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