In southern California, that name means something. It signifies a standard. It’s where Lawrence McCutcheon reached five consecutive Pro Bowls as a running back for the Los Angeles Rams from 1973 to 1977. It’s where his son, Daylon McCutcheon, had his number retired following a stellar prep career at Bishop Amat High School. It’s where he starred as a defensive back for the USC Trojans, before embarking on an NFL career with the Cleveland Browns.
And on Saturday, it’s where Dyson McCutcheon — Daylon’s son, and Lawrence’s grandson — announced his verbal commitment to the University of Washington.
Granted, he also had an offer from USC. But Dyson decided to make a name for himself someplace else.
“When I first got the (USC) offer, everybody was kind of chirping in my ear, saying, ‘Hey, your dad went there. That would be a good fit for you,’” Dyson McCutcheon told The Times in a phone interview on Monday. “But I just thought about it and figured that just because my dad went there and had success there doesn’t mean that I have to go there.”
That isn’t to say that Dyson — a three-star 2021 DB, according to 247Sports — is running from his family name. It’s actually the opposite. He grew up going to his dad’s games in Cleveland; they’d drop him off at a daycare center in the stadium while Daylon suited up and played. He attended his fair share of USC games as well, and he currently stars at Bishop Amat — his dad’s high school alma mater. He says that “it was a great environment to grow up around, because (my dad has) done stuff that I want to do in the future. I want to go to the NFL. So to have my dad have all that advice, all that knowledge about the next level and college and the NFL, I’m blessed.”
And in 2016, Dyson McCutcheon was blessed to attend a UW game inside Husky Stadium with his team. To watch John Ross and Budda Baker and Kevin King and Vita Vea and Dante Pettis. To let the purple and gold steadily seep into his skin.
“I just fell in love with it,” Dyson said. “I fell in love with the stadium, the atmosphere, the fans and all of that. I’ve been hooked ever since.”
But how did Dyson hook the Dawgs? From a rankings standpoint, he may actually be underrated. At 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, he’s not a physically imposing prospect.
But 247Sports national recruiting editor Brandon Huffman said that “I don’t think he’s going to need a lot of development and physical growth (to play early at UW). I don’t know that he’s going to get much bigger. But he’s super instinctual. Really good ball skills. Really fluid player. Really technically sound, heady player that I think is what you’re looking for in a DB. Can play nickel. Can be a corner. Has the positional versatility back there.”
In other words — like with former Los Angeles Loyola High School standout, turned All-Pac-12 performer Myles Bryant — appearances aren’t everything.
“I like him more than I liked Myles at the same stage,” Huffman said of McCutcheon. “Of course, we loved Myles. We had him as a mid- to high-three-star. He had Power Five offers before he ended up walking on at Washington. Dyson’s a little further along at the same stage.
“They’re kind of overshadowed by other guys in that region that maybe get a little bit more press, that maybe are a little bit more active on social media. But if you look at Dyson’s recruitment, people are very aware of him. People knew him. He’s been recruited by a lot of schools both nationally and regionally. He’s a better prospect at the same stage (than Bryant) but very similar type of players and personalities in that neither one will draw much attention to themselves, so they may at times tend to be underappreciated and overlooked a bit.”
Still, Power Five programs noticed McCutcheon plenty. He earned scholarship offers from USC, Michigan, Notre Dame, Cal, Arizona, Wisconsin, Washington State, Oregon State, Vanderbilt and many more.
But when UW offered him in May, Dyson silently decided to commit the same week.
“That weekend I told my dad, ‘This is where I’m going. I know this is the spot for me,’” Dyson said. “I feel like now I can kind of relax. The recruiting process, it is fun, but sometimes it’s stressful — especially with making the decision.
“So now that I made it I feel like I can kind of relax and pay attention to one school and get to know that one school better. I feel like I’m kind of part of the family now.”
Dyson McCutcheon has two football families — the one he was born into, and the one he just chose.
And he also knows he wouldn’t have the latter without the former.
“I have huge shoes to fill (in my family), and I know that and I’m willing to take on that task,” Dyson McCutcheon said. “My dad dealt with the same pressure with his father, so he talks about it all the time. He always tells me, ‘You’re your own person at the end of the day.’
“He had his career. My grandpa had his career. But now it’s my time to make my own career and make my own name. I feel like over the years I’ve kind of proven myself, that it’s not all about my last name. It’s about my first name as well.”
And soon enough, Dyson McCutcheon will make his own name on Montlake.