Ben Cutter evolving as athlete for West Virginia football

Sep 30, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers linebacker Ben Cutter (15) reacts
Sep 30, 2023; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers linebacker Ben Cutter (15) reacts / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Cutter emerged as a standout player for West Virginia football last season, quickly making his mark on the field. Hailing from Denver, North Carolina, Cutter, a 3-star recruit in 2023, proved to be a significant addition to the team, particularly as a sought-after linebacker towards the end of his recruiting journey. Cutter talked recently after a spring practice session about his reflections on his debut season and his outlook for the team's future in the upcoming year.

"Going in raw as a freshman, playing that many snaps, you're going to find a lot about yourself and about your game." Cutter said with a smile on his face. "And I'm glad that it happened though, because I got to step forward on what I need to fix. I made a lot of mistakes, but also did a lot of good things. Those mistakes are the things I've been trying to focus on this spring during spring ball.

Cutter was able to jump in and recorded 56 total tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, and 2 sacks. As a true freshman, he as well as the coaching staff, identified what exactly he needs to focus in on.

"Just playing fast, playing comfortable, and angles to the ball," he said. "I missed some tackles last year because I'd take an angle and my hips would be turned out, and the running back's hips are still square to me, and he cuts back, and it just doesn't look good on film. So, just little things like that. And those are things that you don't really notice until you have a lot of game experience because you make the mistake more than once, you realize it, and you need to fix it. So that definitely helped me having all those reps last year."

The reps Cutter received last year were crucial as experience and depth were seen as a concern by the end of the season last year. But now it could be looking like a strength for the Mountaineers defense. Cutter emphasized the depth in the linebacker room this year and is ready to embrace the challenge with his brothers.

"There's so much competition in that room right now," Cutter said. "We have eight guys right now, seven, because [Jairo Faverus] is hurt, but seven guys that are hungry to play, know the playbook, know what they're doing, and come out every day ready to go."

"We have meetings before practice, and you're like, 'Alright, well, I better step up today because this guy's going to have a better practice than me.' So, the competition makes all of us better too. You feel like somebody's chasing you every day, and you've got to perform your best."

In addition to gaining a deeper understanding of the game's schematics through his extensive playing time last year, Cutter also learned the importance of the physical aspect through firsthand experience.

"I was beat down." Cutter said. "It was very hard because this game is so physical, especially at this level. You run into guys that are twice your size every play, and you've got to be able to maintain your weight and also maintain your top speeds, maintain how athletic you were before the season started. So that being in the game, playing all those snaps, you're not hurting your team. So I think taking care of your body, we have a ton of stuff here to help with that, but that was definitely one of the biggest things I learned last year, playing so much."

If you haven't seen Cutter since the end of the year, you would be shocked with his results during the offseason. When he came to West Virginia he was listed at 210 pounds. Now?

"I'm at 225 right now, morning weight," he said. "I go to sleep at 230. So, when I say I go to sleep at 230, I wake up 5 pounds lighter. It's crazy. But I feel good. I feel fast. I ran some of my fastest combine times whenever we did our testing right before Spring ball started. So I feel good, comfortable, the size, more confident, run fits, taking on bigger guys. I think I'm a lot stronger now too and understand better techniques of using my hands."

Coach Brown and his team have made it a priority to bulk up the linebackers, aiming to dominate in the trenches and shut down the running game. With Cutter beefing up by an extra 20 pounds, he's poised to be the one dishing out punishment on the field, becoming a true powerhouse in the lineup.

Cutter's journey from a 3-star recruit to a vital player for West Virginia has been impressive. His reflections on his freshman season showcase a player committed to growth and improvement, both mentally and physically. With a deeper understanding of the game's nuances and a renewed focus on his body's maintenance, Cutter is primed to make an even bigger impact this upcoming season. His dedication to his craft, evident in his offseason transformation, exemplifies the kind of player Coach Neal Brown and his team are counting on to elevate the Mountaineers' defense. As Cutter continues to evolve, both as a player and a leader in the linebacker room, the future looks bright for West Virginia football.