"The thing we like about New Jersey is that it's a real good brand of football," said U of L head coach Bobby Petrino during last Friday's press conference. "The good thing about these guys in New Jersey is that most of them grew up with the Big East Conference...they're excited to have us coming in."
The staff's hardwork up north has already paid dividends with the commitment of Darius Mann of Don Bosco Prep, but it's also making positive impressions with other highly-rated prospects, such as linebacker Brian Cushing of Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey.
Cushing's opinion of the University of Louisville's football program took a huge step forward on Tuesday when he called the Cardinals football office and spent nearly an hour on the phone with head coach Bobby Petrino, Kevin Wolthausen and others.
"It went really well," Cushing said of the phone call. "I learned a lot of new things about Louisville. I learned about the type of players that they have there, what type of team they are building and the overall situation."
The move into the Big East Conference will play a large role in helping the Cardinal program continue its development as an annual Top 25 and BCS Bowl competing team.
Cushing also believes that Petrino's Louisville program can compete for the league title right away.
"I see them being the best team in the conference," Cushing said of Louisville.
During his Friday press conference, Coach Petrino expressed similar feelings.
"I think the teams that are there now, we can compete against," Petrino said.
Rated as the 10th best linebacker prospect nationally by TheInsiders.com, Cushing will have numerous options when it comes time to decide on a school. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Cushing has already collected 55 scholarship offers, including those extended by Louisville, Oklahoma, Miami, Penn State, as well as every program in the Big East.
During his press conference, Petrino said the key to landing prospects is to get them to make a visit to the University of Louisville.
"You have to convince them to come on the campus, so they can see our facilities," Petrino explained. "I still feel like that anytime we get a player on campus that we have a chance of getting them."
During his conversation with the Louisville coaches, he was extended an invitation to visit U of L, either officially or unofficially...or both.
"We talked about it," said Cushing, who has known Cardinal commit Darius Mann for about a year. "He definately wants to show me everything down there."
Cushing told ITV that he may very well make an unofficial visit to the River City with Darius Mann for the Cardinals home opener against Kentucky on September 5th.
As a junior at Bergen Catholic, Cushing was impressive while playing a rover position, totaling 120 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 7 interceptions. He also recorded 13 receptions for 456 yards and 7 touchdowns playing wide receiver. He was named First Team All-State as a junior and Bergen County Defensive Player of the Year.