On Saturday afternoon, the Minnesota Vikings made Air Force long snapper Austin Cutting the last of their twelve selections in the 2019 NFL Draft. Shortly after his selection, Cutting got an opportunity to sit down with the Twin Cities media and answer some questions via a conference call. We have the transcript of that call for you below, courtesy of the fine folks from the Minnesota Vikings’ PR Department. Enjoy, everyone!
Just want to say that I’m thrilled to be drafted by Minnesota. It’s a dream come to be able to play in the NFL, but more importantly, I’m looking forward to graduating from the Academy and beginning my career in the Air Force. That’s why I came to the Academy, to serve my country and if there’s a way and opportunity to do both like others have in the past, then so be it but we’ll figure this situation out as it.
Q: How does that work out? Do you have to get special permission from the NFL or what exactly would you have to do to play in the NFL this year?
A: There’s a duty policy that we have to serve 24 months before we can apply to have the remainder of our commitment served in the reserve. That’s all I can really say about that; those are decisions made above my paygrade.
Q: Joe Cardona was in a similar situation a couple years ago. Are you familiar with his situation and how he handled it?
A: I am, a little bit, ending, going through it and all that. He obviously knows it more than I do. I actually contacted him after going to the NFLPA Bowl and we kind of talked. He kind of ran me through how he did it and stuff like that. I talked with him so I have some idea of how it went before getting all into this.
Q: How quickly did this process come together for you?
A: I’m still in school and looking forward to graduating next month, fingers crossed. It’s an ongoing process. It’s not, “Okay, the Air Force was done and now it’s time for the NFL.” That’s not the case whatsoever. We’re working with it and see how it goes. Like I said, it’s decisions that are made above my paygrade and they’ll help me along the way.
Q: I meant being on the Air Force’s football program to being on the NFL radar?
A: I’m sorry. It’s an honor. I think if I can remember the last time somebody was drafted from the academy was in the 80s and just to be able to show the guys it can be done if you just work at it. Just being from an academy makes it a little bit harder because you may have some things that some schools may not have. Being able to do that and show when you come to the academy it’s not just the end of your career going to school, having to find a job, or going to play football and being done playing football.
Q: Will you be at the Vikings rookie mini camp?
A: Yes, sir. They are currently actually working on that and I’ve been in touch with a lot of people at school and they’re doing their due diligence. I’ll be able to; I got to make up my work on Thursday and Friday but other than that, absolutely. Absolutely.
Q: I read that you lettered power lifting in high school. How much does power lifting help with the quick-twitch part of the game when you have to react as quick as you do when you’re on special teams?
A: Everything helps in my opinion. You always hear everyone saying this big-time names were multiple sport athletes growing up and I think it helped a lot. I think it obviously helped me get some of my strength from where it came from but as far as the snapping goes I feel like it’s more cleans, stuff like that, helped me and in power lifting that’s not one of the ones but still you’re squatting, you’re deadlifting all the hamstrings, glutes, quads. I think it’s helped a lot.
Q: It’s rare that long snappers are drafted. Was there a lot of interest in you coming out?
A: Yes sir. I believe there was. We were in touch with about half the teams about, I would say 14 to 15, right around there. There were three to four that were coming after me pretty hard and of those four Minnesota was one. We’ve been dealing with that and this is how it played out and I’m happy.
Q: What’s your role going to be in the Air Force? Are you a pilot?
A: As of right now I’m an acquisition officer, so not a pilot. Acquisition would just being buying things and stuff like that, that the Air Force needs. That’s what I’m slated for.
Q: How did you become a long snapper?
A: I originally started out as a tackle. That’s pretty much where I played my whole time in high school. I was getting recruited by a couple schools. I had a full-ride to a smaller school down in Houston and then I had Air Force. Those were the two offers I had. Air Force was just for snapping and then the school down in House was for playing tackle. That’s how I did that and then one day my coach was like, ‘Hey, we want to try you out here. We’re going to put you here at snapping, we’re going to make you learn and all that kind of stuff.’ Ever since then, that was my freshman year of high school, I picked up on it and kept going from there. That’s how that came to be.
Q: How much grit does it take to play long snapper?
A: I think at every position it takes grit to play. Obviously, there’s some positions more so than others. I would say more so on the mental side just because specialists are just such a different job. You’re not out there all the time, everyone is expecting to hit when you need to and be doing what you need to do every single time. I would say it takes a lot it just might be a little different of a way.
Q: What was the small school that recruited you in Texas?