“Where The Hell Is Nashville?”: The Unbelievable Story Of How Jay Cutler Ended Up At Vanderbilt

Prior to Jay Cutler’s arrival at Vanderbilt University in 2002, the Commodores football team had long struggled to find success in the competitive SEC. With no more than two conference wins since 1991, the program was desperately in need of a turnaround.

Little did they know that their savior would come in the form of an ultra-talented quarterback from Indiana.

Despite a career record of 11-35 at Vanderbilt, Cutler’s impact was undeniable. He elevated the program from the depths of mediocrity, making them competitive in the notoriously tough SEC.

Cutler’s efforts were duly recognized when he received the SEC Offensive Player of the Year award in his senior season, further solidifying his place as the best quarterback in the school’s history.

NFL scouts took note of Cutler’s talent and determination, leading to his selection as the 11th overall pick by the Denver Broncos in the 2006 NFL Draft. It was a remarkable achievement for a player who hadn’t even received a look from powerhouses like local Notre Dame, where another notable quarterback, Brady Quinn, was making waves at the same time.

Cutler shared the captivating story of how he ended up choosing Vanderbilt, and it’s a tale that perfectly encapsulates his unique personality.

He had a legendary high school career at Heritage Hills where he played quarterback and safety.. He had nine interceptions as a senior and made 19 tackles in the state championship game.

Cutler revealed on Pardon My Take that other schools had shown interest in him, including Purdue, who wanted him to play safety, and Illinois, where he initially committed. However, Illinois later asked him to delay his enrollment, which didn’t sit well with the determined young quarterback.

Then came the unexpected call from Vanderbilt. Cutler recalled, “Vandy called and I was like, ‘well, I got nothing else going on.’”

“So it’s basketball season and it’s early January and I get a call, you know at school they did the intercom thing, ‘Jay Cutler, come to the office.’ I’m like, what’s happening now?.. Get to the office and they’re like ‘hey, the AD wants to talk to you.’ So I go down there and he’s like ‘Vandy called, they want to talk to you.’ And they’re like ‘hey, we just watched your tape, we’re just kind of cleaning up the rest of our recruiting. We’d like you, but we don’t think you can play tight end in the SEC.’ I was like ‘well, that’s fine, I don’t even play tight end.’”

“Then he was like ‘well, who is this?’ I told him my name and he’s like ‘alright, well, we see your tape, we’ll watch it and we’ll call you back in a little bit.’ I’m like ‘OK.’ Hang up the phone and look at [the AD] and I’m like ‘they’re not calling, can I go back to class now?’”

“So I go back to class and literally three hours later, same thing. I get down there [to the AD’s office] and he’s like ‘hey, they’re on the phone,’ and I talk to him and he’s like ‘we love the tape, we want you to come to Vandy, we have a scholarship for you but we need to know by the end of the day.’”

“I was like, why?.. He’s like ‘well we’ve got these two other people, there are two scholarships left and three kids out there just waiting on them. Whoever gets them first gets them.’”

“Now, I don’t even know where Vandy is.. I’m in Indiana, Big Ten country, and I’m like ‘where is Vandy?’ No idea. So I look at the AD and I’m like ‘hey, I gotta go home, I’ve gotta figure this out, talk to my dad.’ So I go home and it’s like the dial up internet thing.”

“I get on and it’s making all those noises and I’m looking at Vandy, Nashville, I’m like ‘where the hell is Nashville?’ Trying to figure this out. And I call my dad and I tell him and he’s like ‘oh, you’re going,’ and I’m like, I don’t even know where this place is and he’s like ‘you’re going, just call them back and tell them you’re going.’”

“So I did a little bit more research, whatever a 17-year-old kid could do at that point, called them back and I’m like ‘alright, I’m in, let’s do this.’ Two weeks later went down for a visit and the rest is history.”

The rest is history is right.. To think that when the whole (expediated) recruiting process took place, Cutler didn’t even know where Nashville was!