At Nickel, McCutcheon barely has any change

The four football players were from California, each a three-star recruit. Together they represented the last bastion of University of Washington defensive backs signed by Jimmy Lake, long considered an expert in his field at finding and developing coverage talent.

Three years later, only junior nickelback Dyson McCutcheon remains on the roster, emerging as a starting candidate for Jedd Fisch’s staff coming out of Husky spring training.

Gone are cornerback Davon Banks to Boise State this spring, cornerback Zakhari Spears to Connecticut two years ago and safety Vince Nunley still loose in the transfer portal since December.

Looking to finish his football career at the UW, the 6-foot-4, 184-pound McCutcheon could be rewarded for his patience and turn out to be another Alex Cook or Mishael Powell, a secondary who has spent a lot of time in Montlake before taking on great responsibility and flourishing.

“I definitely feel like I’ve worked for it and I’m honored to be in the first group and I’m proud of that,” McCutcheon said of his starting bid during spring ball. “I definitely feel like I gave it my all, and not only kept up with the other guys, but did my part.”

This is one in a series of articles – ranging from 0 to 99 on the Husky roster – examining what each scholarship player and leading walk-on did this past spring and what to expect from them in the future.

Dyson McCutcheon settles under the ball during spring training.

Dyson McCutcheon settles under the ball during spring training. / Skylar Lin images

McCutcheon, who was used as a backup the past two seasons, comes from a football history that suggests he should be a successful college player when he’s ready.

His father, Daylon, was an All-Pac-10 cornerback for USC and a seven-year starter for the Cleveland Browns.

His grandfather, Lawrence, was even better as a Los Angeles Rams running back, earning Pro Bowl honors in five of his 10 NFL seasons.

“My dad texts me every day,” Dyson McCutcheon said during spring ball. “We have contact and talk about the practice.”

During the coaching change from Kalen DeBoer to Fisch, McCutcheon briefly entered the transfer portal before returning to the UW.

“It was definitely to assess my options,” he said. “I came in before I knew what staff was coming. I just wanted to see what else was out there. Once I saw Coach Fisch come through, I knew what he was doing in Arizona. I was recruited by him.”

All this familiarity with the new coaches left this McCutcheon with plenty of opportunities in the spring to show what he could do for nickel, to keep a remnant of Lake’s DB Class of 2021 in place, to make that football family proud to make on him.

Dyson McCutcheon (21) finishes a teammate during spring ball.

Dyson McCutcheon (21) finishes a teammate during spring ball. / Skylar Lin images


What did he do: McCutcheon is just getting started. He played in a dozen UW games as a backup DB over the past two seasons. He has 5 tackles to his name and a pass breakup. He reports to safeties coach Vinnie Sunseri, who was an aggressive NFL player and expects the same style of play from his players.

Starter or not: Entering fall camp, McCutcheon is the leading prospect at Nickel after appearing to keep his mistakes to a minimum during spring ball. Yet it is a very competitive situation. Jordan Shaw, who made two starts as a Big Ten freshman last season, will be pushing hard for the job, as will Oklahoma’s Justin Harrington, provided he doesn’t play safety, and sophomore Tristan Dunn is also firmly in the mix . .

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