Brian Cushing has that edge to his game that makes him stand out on the field. He has natural instincts that allow him to fly to the ball. During his high school season at Bergen Catholic he had 120 tackles and 9.5 sacks to go with seven interceptions. He also scored seven offensive touchdowns with 456 receiving yards on just 13 catches.
It is at linebacker where he will be making an impact at the next level. He has offers nationwide, but the choices are down to Southern Cal, Miami, Florida, Notre Dame and Penn State. He has visited Penn State and Louisville and at present, he has no plans for a Notre Dame visit.
"I'll say that USC is my favorite now, but truthfully, that could change because I haven't even seen the school," said Cushing after the East finished its practice Tuesday afternoon. "I just know that I like the coaches there, but I want to give every school recruiting me a fair shot before I make any decision."
He plans to major in business or sports medicine wherever he goes. His priority for a school choice means "being somewhere that I'm most comfortable with the players and feeling right at home" to go with an academic package that "offers a great education that gets you ready to succeed after graduation."
He carries a 3.4 GPA in the classroom and has already scored 1010 on his SAT.
He said that he is looking forward to spending time on the Florida campus with Coach Urban Meyer and with defensive coordinator Charlie Strong.
"Coach Meyer is a great coach and everyone knows he wants to win," said Cushing. "I like that he wants players to be winners off the field, too. Coach Strong has been successful wherever he's been and I know that he will get the job done at Florida. I think he's a great defensive coordinator."
During this week, recruiting is not the priority. He's just having fun flying to the football and getting to know his teammates who come from all over the eastern United States.
"It's great to be here with a chance to meet all these guys and play with them," he said. "It's a totally different pace of football, too. Everyone's playing so hard and trying to show their game. Everyone's using that to get better off each other.
"It's pretty cool playing against the best kids in the country to see where you stack up. Overall, it's an unbelievable experience and I would have really regretted it if I hadn't come down here."
He says that playing with so many great athletes allows him to feel more relaxed about following his instincts which almost always take him quickly to the football.
"This is totally different," he said. "It's not like high school where you have to be so cautious because one slight mistake and someone will score. Here you can just do everything you can to make the play because you know that there's someone right there to back you up who is a great player.
"I feel more relaxed on every play and I have such confidence in the guys who are playing around me. We have an attitude that we're going to get it done no matter what."
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is played in San Antonio, Texas, at the Alamodome on Jan. 15, 2005, and broadcast nationally on NBC at 1 p.m. EST. Scout.com is a sponsor, the official selection partner and exclusive on-line partner of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, as well as the associated U.S. Army Combine for underclassmen.