Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

IU football: Backup QB Jack Tuttle has “come miles” — will be ready if duty calls

If his lone goal was to start from day one, Jack Tuttle could have picked a more attractive transfer destination.

After arriving in Bloomington in early 2019, the California product walked right into one of the better quarterback competitions in recent IU history.

Of course as things turned out, Tuttle ended up No. 3 on the depth chart in 2019.

After not playing as a freshman at Utah, and attempting only 11 passes for Indiana in 2019, it would have been easy for Tuttle to get frustrated and check out.

But Tuttle also saw how quickly things can change in football.  Although Penix was named the 2019 starter, Ramsey was called into action repeatedly and helped lead IU to an 8-4 record and the Gator Bowl.

Perhaps that’s why rather than getting discouraged, Tuttle seems to be embracing where he’s at, and the opportunity that could be presented in the blink of an eye.

“I think Jack has come miles since he’s been here,” offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan told the media on a Zoom conference on Wednesday.  “I think he’s gained the trust and confidence from his teammates, and he continues to get better and better.”

How has Tuttle improved during his time at Indiana?

“Just knowledge and comfort with interacting and communicating with his teammates,” Sheridan said.  “His understanding of what to do and when to do it.  Nobody is perfect, that goes from Mike (Penix), to me to Jack to everybody — there’s room for improvement.  But just his comfortability to execute down in and down out, and we look forward to him continuing to grow.”

Tuttle was born in Indianapolis and is the son of former IU walk-on kicker Jay Tuttle.

A former four-star recruit, Tuttle was one of the top ten rated quarterbacks in the country in the class of 2017.  His offers included Alabama, LSU, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

He arrived at IU wanting to play.

“They all want to play,” Sheridan said.  “If they didn’t then that’s not the type of player that you’re recruiting.”

But Tuttle arrived last year behind Penix and Ramsey in terms of both experience and knowledge of the system.

Not long into the 2019 fall camp, a three-way competition turned into just two.

“He just got here and was just learning what he was doing, and obviously Mike and Peyton had a leg up on him in that regard,” Sheridan said.

With Penix and Ramsey commanding most of the reps later at camp and into the early part of the season, Tuttle’s opportunity to develop diminished somewhat.

But Tuttle moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart after multiple injuries suffered by Penix.  After Penix suffered a season ending injury in November, Tuttle then became the full-time backup and earned more practice reps all the way through to the Gator Bowl on January 2.

“The banked reps that he did get over the course of the season, over the course of the bowl practices, modified spring and training camp that we did have — I think that’s benefitted him,” Sheridan.

There is no quarterback competition in 2020.  Penix is fully recovered and the clear starter.

That could be a source of frustration for Tuttle.

Truth be told, it probably is — or as Sheridan says — it should be.

But Tuttle isn’t letting that become a distraction.

From his vantage point, Penix sees a good teammate, an improving quarterback, and someone that will be ready to go if necessary.

“I’ve seen a lot of progress out of Jack,” Penix said.  “I’ve seen a lot of confidence.  He can make every throw on the field.  His understanding of the offense and why we do everything.  That’s one thing that me and him connect with.  We always talk and make sure we’re on the same page.  He’s always on the film.  Jack is a great player for us, and I’m definitely glad to have him.”

As he returns to the quarterback room after a year with the tight ends, Sheridan is pleased with the dynamic with his still young group.

Penix and Tuttle are still just redshirt sophomores.  The expected third string quarterback is true freshman Dexter Williams.

Perhaps it helps that everyone knows where they stand in the pecking order right now, but whatever the case, Sheridan sees a quarterback room with a positive, supportive vibe.

And that is making Sheridan’s life easier as he embarks on his first season as a play caller.

“The interaction between Mike, Jack, and Dex in the room — I’m thankful, they make it easy to coach, they like each other, they enjoy each other’s company, they try to help each other,” Sheridan said.

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