Vikings newest long snapper balancing NFL, Air Force demands

Austin Cutting has a bit of a balancing act to do when it comes his dream of playing in the NFL.

He was on the field at TCO Performance Center in Eagan on Friday as dozens of rookies started their inaugural minicamp. Whether he’ll still be there for training camp is another story.

He’ll have to miss at least one day of organized team activities, May 30, and for good reason. He’ll be in Colorado Springs, Colo., to graduate from the Air Force Academy. The Vikings took Cutting, a long snapper, with their final selection in the seventh round last Saturday in the NFL Draft.

“It’s an honor. Going to the academy, serving is what comes first. Then the NFL hopefully, potentially comes second, but it’s an honor to be drafted for sure,” Cutting said.

Cutting was brought into provide competition on special teams with Kevin McDermott, the Vikings’ current long snapper. But it’s uncertain if Cutting will ever get the opportunity.

Upon graduating, he’s required to serve a minimum of 24 months with the Air Force. He said they’re still working out the details between playing and serving, but his first duty is to his country.

“We have to serve 24 months and that’s standard. Not trying to get out of any of that, we’re trying to work with it,” Cutting said. “They’re talking and we’re trying to figure it out. As of now I’m serving 24 months and that’s how it is.”

It’s very clear that Cutting’s first duty is being there for his country. He answered every question Friday ending with “Yes sir.” He’s an acquisitions officer with the Air Force, which means he’s partly in charge of buying what the military needs.

As he put it, “Anything from basic, essential things to big military things that they need.”

Cutting was an offensive tackle and center in his high school days in Keller, Texas. So how did he turn to long snapping as a playing opportunity? He just gave it a try. One of his high school coaches said “Hey, you’re going to come do it.”

It didn’t take long for it to stick. Cutting played in all 13 games at long snapper for Air Force two seasons ago, and played in 10 games last year. He helped Air Force hit 45 of 46 extra points and 10 of 13 field goals last year.

He spent the weekend of the NFL Draft with his family in Texas, and thought there was a possibility he might get a phone call. It came from the Vikings, late in the seventh round.

“It was awesome. It’s an unreal feeling. People always talk about getting a phone call and that kind of stuff, you think it’s pretty cool and when it actually happens, you can’t really describe it. It’s a great feeling,” Cutting said.

But again, his first and primary duty is serving his country with the Air Force. There’s a good chance his NFL career will have to be put on hold for that.

One of his newest teammates, third round pick Alexander Mattison, has ultimate respect for Cutting. He has family in the Air Force.

“I definitely think he has a bright future. My dad served in the Air Force and my granddad served in the Air Force, so there’s some blood there,” Mattison said.

So while the Vikings and Air Force try to work out an agreement on his football status, Cutting will control what he can control. He’ll do his thing on the field, and serve his country when the time comes.

He knows what he signed up for, and he’ll be the first to say he’s just fine with that.

“I know that first I have to serve and that’s where my priorities are. That’s how the situation is playing out,” Cutting said.