The first time cornerback Adrian Bushell was supposed to come to the University of Louisville he was a no-show.
Bushell was scheduled for a visit with the previous coaching staff, said he had his itinerary and the morning of the visit just decided, "I just wasn't going."
The second chance Bushell received at Louisville – albeit another coaching staff – he not only showed up but also has become one of the Cardinals' top defensive players.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Bushell, who spent two seasons at Florida, came to U of L from Coffeyville, Kan., Community College just before the start of last season and ended up starting seven games for the Cardinals.
"He's the guy that you have to say, ‘you see that cat over there?," defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said. "You go talk to him and tell him he can't get out of the doghouse at all because you're going to bite him.'
"That's just what we need out of Bushell right now. He has to be that guy."
Bushell had 50 tackles, including 38 solo tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, 2.5 tackles for a loss and was named first-team All-Conference. He was also a standout on special teams for the Cardinals.
"I feel like I have made big strides in the right direction," Bushell said. "Last year I was kind of winging it sometimes. I really didn't know where I was supposed to be at all the time. But, now I'm good to go."
Bushell is one of four returning starters in the secondary for U of L. He also figures to be one of the return guys for the Cardinals this season. He was in the rotation to return both kicks and punts during the two open practices.
"He now knows what to expect," Bedford said. "He's probably in the best shape he's ever been in. We have to find different ways to use him, whether it's playing nickleback or playing corner, sometimes even playing safety.
"Everybody knows special teams wise. He blocked a field goal, two punts and returned a kick against Connecticut. We expect a lot of things out of him."
A former four-star prospect from DeSoto, Tx., Bushell signed with Florida but after two seasons he left the program and said "things didn't work out."
Bushell came to U of L late in fall camp last season. He didn't make his debut until the second game but made a major impact on the season.
In an already thin secondary, Bushell added some more quality. He said he also cleaned up his off-field image during the season.
"I am very humble right now and trying to live in the moment," Bushell said. "I had a second chance to come to a big-time Division I program and kind of restore my image. I had to really let coach know that I could be the guy he needs me to be, more of a leader and more accountable and help bring young guys along.
"I know I am fortunate to be here and I had to take advantage of the situation."
U of L head coach Charlie Strong said Bushell still has a long way to go to get where he wants but has "really matured for us."
"He still has to grow up some," Strong said. "But he's worked hard on his fundamentals. It's all about each year, guys getting better and maturing."
Bushell said his future goal is to play in the NFL, but for now his focus is on being a leader, helping the Cardinals win and continuing to mature.
I have made strides, but I am not done yet," he said. "I am going to get there. I know coach (Strong) took a chance with me and I need to pay him back."
The Cardinals are expecting big things from Bushell.
"We need him to be a real guy, a guy we can count on that it's 10-on-10 and you took him away thank you now we can double over here," Bedford said. "We need that from Bushell this year."