BOZEMAN — Former Bozeman Hawk Lance McCutcheon has been waiting for his chance to shine with the Montana State Bobcats football team, and the senior said the year off has actually been a blessing in disguise.
“For me in my boat, it was kind of a blessing in disguise," McCutcheon said. "Giving me an extra year to work on myself and work on my game so I can be better for my team in my last year. There was no choice for me even leaving, I was going to play my last year no matter what. Excited about that.”
After sitting behind Kevin Kassis and Travis Jonsen, who is now in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in 2019, McCutcheon is expected to have an expanded role in 2021. The Bobcats are having the wide receiver play not only on the outside but in the slot as well. In the 2019 season, McCutcheon finished with 13 catches, 197 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
“Being able to play both outside and in the slot is going to be really huge for me," said McCutcheon. "I’ve never played in the slot before really. It’s been a little bit of struggle working in the slot, but, like I said, never done it before, we’re just trying to expand my game a little.”
For wide receivers coach Justin Udy, having McCutcheon play inside and out is about having the best players on the field.
“Lance is really based on being more of an outside guy. For us in the offensive system that we’re in right now, it’s really transitioned to where the outside receiver can line up in the slot and really the goal is to play the best players all the time," Udy said.
McCutcheon not only has an expanded role on the offense, but he’s now a leader for the young position group.
“Lance has just done a tremendous job in transitioning to becoming a leader in our room and that’s given him a lot of confidence," Udy said. "I think for us the main thing that we talk about in our room is just being unselfish and being able to understand that when the opportunities do come, we need to take advantage of them, and that’s something that Lance has helped all the other guys in the room see.”
It's the selfless playing style that coach Udy sees in the senior wide receiver that is infectious on the whole receiver group.
“We could go periods of practice where he doesn’t see the ball at all, but you’ll never hear a word about it because the one time that his number is called, he’s making the play." said Udy. "That’s really infectious and contagious amongst our group. Been really happy with his progress in the first four practices. We got a long way to go but couldn’t be happier with Lance at this point.”
After previous upperclassmen showed him how to lead, McCutcheon has embraced the role.
“I’m not a big hoot and holler, rah rah guy, I’d say I’m more laid back, a little more quiet," he said. "If I see something -- whether coach Udy addresses it or not -- I’ll just kind of grab one of the younger guys and tell them you can work on this and this or that, just try to give them a couple of things to focus on at times.”
In his final season, McCutcheon is ready to represent his hometown.
“Being from here, there’s a lot of pride playing in my hometown," said the senior.
Udy believes that this is going to be a special season for the Bozeman native and McCutcheon is ready for it.
“I’ve waited a long time and it’s my last year," McCutcheon said. "Who doesn’t want to go out with a bang for their last year?”