Brian Cushing (born January 24, 1987) is an American football inside linebacker for the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at USC, and was drafted by the Texans in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Early years

Cushing trained throughout his childhood in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Cushing attended Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, New Jersey and went on to lead the Crusaders to the 2004 Group IV State Championship as a linebacker, tight end, and running back against Don Bosco Preparatory High School, providing huge plays in the 13-10 win. [45] He was named "2004 North Jersey Player of the Year" by The Record (Bergen County) . [3] and played in the 2005 U.S. Army All-American Bowl alongside future USC teammates Patrick Turner, Rey Maualuga, and Mark Sanchez. [4]

Cushing was recruited by top colleges, including Notre Dame, Georgia, and Penn State before ultimately committing to the University of Southern California.

College career

Cushing attended the University of Southern California, and played for the USC Trojans football team 2005 to 2008 under head coach Pete Carroll. Cushing shared the No. 10 jersey with Trojans starting quarterback John David Booty from 2005 to 2007.

Cushing was on the 2007 preseason Phil Steele's All-America team and on the 2007 Bednarik Award and Lott Trophy watch lists.

Cushing returned a failed onside kick attempted by Notre Dame at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for a late fourth-quarter touchdown on November 25, 2006.

On January 1, 2007, Cushing was named the Defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl Game, after recording 2½ sacks and forcing a third-quarter fumble that changed the momentum of the game. [38]

Cushing was named AP 2nd Team All-American as a senior despite having pedestrian statistics (73 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, & 3 sacks.). NFL scouts did not admire Cushing for his statistics, but for his versatility. Fast enough to play inside and outside linebacker and big and strong enough to play defensive end. Cushing was the most versatile defensive player in the draft. He also shocked NFL scouts by benching 225 lbs 30 times.

Cushing was one of twelve senior USC players, including the four senior linebackers Cushing, Kaluka Maiava, Clay Matthews III and Rey Maualuga, invited to the 2009 NFL Scouting Combine. [39] He also participated in the 2009 Senior Bowl with Maualuga, Matthews, Patrick Turner and others. Alongside fellow USC linebackers Maualuga and Matthews, he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated' s 2009 NFL Draft Preview magazine, as all three were regarded as potential first round selections. [7]

Cushing, along with Archie Griffin of Ohio State University, are the only 2 players in college football history to have competed in the Rose Bowl as starters in all 4 seasons of their college careers. [22]

College awards and honors

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt 40‑yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20‑ss 3‑cone Vert jump Broad BP Wonderlic
6 ft 2 7 8 in
(1.90 m)
243 lb
(110 kg)
4.64 s 1.53 s 2.62 s 4.22 s 6.84 s 35 in
(0.89 m)
10 ft 0 in
(3.05 m)
30 reps 23 [45]
All values from NFL Combine [45] [45]

Houston Texans (2009–present)

2009–10 season

Cushing was drafted with the 15th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans and had one of the best defensive seasons by a rookie in NFL history.

He scored his first career points on October 4, 2009 when he recorded a safety against the Oakland Raiders. The safety was the first recorded by a Texan since the 2002 season. [3]

Cushing was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 6 of the 2009 NFL Season. Cushing became the first rookie to earn the award in the season. [3] In Week 8, Cushing was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week again, becoming the first Texans rookie to win the award twice in one season. [3] Cushing was also named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. [24]

Cushing finished tied with Ray Lewis for the AFC lead with 133 tackles & added 4 sacks, 10 pass deflections, 4 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. He was selected to the 2010 Pro Bowl as a starter. Cushing was one of three rookies to make it to the Pro Bowl, [3] another being a former USC teammate ( Clay Matthews).

On January 5, 2010, Cushing was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Cushing is the second Texan to win the award, the first being DeMeco Ryans in 2006. [3]

2010–11 season

On May 7, 2010, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Cushing would be suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for a positive test in September 2009 violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substances policy for having above normal levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone, in his system. [3] Cushing had previously denied rumors of his using performance-enhancing substances prior to being drafted. Cushing still denies that he ever ingested or injected any performance enhancers and claimed the test result could have been from a cancerous tumor. Cushing then stated that he would undergo further medical tests to determine how hCG entered his system. [3]

On May 12, 2010, in a revote of the Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year award after his suspension was made public, Cushing received the most votes again, retaining his award. His second team All-Pro status from his rookie season, however, was rescinded by the AP. Cushing is the 1st player ever to have a revote, even though several other players in the NFL's past history have had similar violations during their rookie season.

Cushing was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for testing positive for banned substances. In the final 12 games, he totaled 76 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble.

2011–12 season

During training camp heading into the 2011 season, Cushing was told that he would be switching from outside to inside linebacker due to the new 3-4 defense. They believed that he would not have the quickness to get to the outside. All through high school and college Cushing was always an outside linebacker.

In 2011, the Houston Texans finished the season with a 10-6 record and made it to the playoffs for the first time in team history. Cushing was named Team MVP and while he wasn't voted to the Pro-Bowl he earned AP 2nd Team All-Pro honors after finishing the season with 114 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. Houston Texans defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, called Cushing a "holy phenom" and also said that "he's one of the best I've ever coached, and I've been at it a long time." Cushing said that he will use the fact that he did not make the Pro-Bowl as "motivation and a driving force" to become better. The Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10 in the first round but were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens 20-13 in the Divisional Round.

2012–13 season

During the second quarter of the October 8, 2012 Monday night Houston Texans win over the New York Jets, Cushing left the game with what appeared to be a knee injury which was later confirmed to be a torn ACL. He was placed on injured reserve, ending his 2012 season.

2013–14 season

Cushing inked a deal worth six-year, $58.643 million contract extension that included $31 million guaranteed with the Houston Texans. Averaging $9.2 million for the next six years, making him the highest paid middle linebacker in the NFL.

During the October 20, 2013, game against Kansas City, Cushing broke his fibula and tore his fibular collateral ligament after a low block from Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles in the third quarter. [3] The Texans later announced that he would miss the remainder of the season.

2014–15 season

Cushing started the 2014 NFL season well despite being brought along slowly to start the season, collecting 37 tackles in the first four games as the Texans opened with an impressive 3-1 record. Cushing had 17 tackles in their loss to the New York Giants, tying the franchise record for tackles in a game. [3]

2015–16 season

Cushing finalized a good season with 110 tackles after the two bad seasons passed by the injuries. The Texans were classified for the first round but fell in front of the Kansas City Chiefs 30-0. [4]

2016–17 season

During Week 1 against the Chicago Bears on September 11, 2016, Cushing suffered a partially torn MCL; he did not require surgery. [4]

2017–18 season

On September 13, 2017, Cushing was suspended 10 games for again violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. [4]

NFL statistics

Regular season

Year Team GP GS Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF
2009 HOU 16 16 133 86 47 4.0 1 10 4 26 6.5 20 -- 2
2010 HOU 12 12 76 53 23 1.5 -- 4 -- -- -- -- -- 1
2011 HOU 16 16 114 76 38 4.0 -- 5 2 5 2.5 5 -- 2
2012 HOU 5 5 30 23 7 -- -- 2 1 1 1.0 1 -- 1
2013 HOU 7 7 48 36 12 1.5 -- 3 1 18 18.0 18T 1 1
2014 HOU 14 14 72 41 31 1.0 -- 2 -- -- -- -- -- 1
2015 HOU 16 16 110 63 47 -- -- 3 -- -- -- -- -- 1
2016 HOU 13 13 65 38 27 -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- -- --
2017 HOU 1 1 3 1 2 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Total 100 100 651 417 234 12.0 1 30 8 50 6.0 20 1 9

Playoffs

Year Team GP GS Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF
2011-12 HOU 2 2 19 10 9 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2015-16 HOU 1 1 13 9 4 -- -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- --
2016-17 HOU 2 2 8 3 5 1.0 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Total 5 5 40 22 18 1.0 -- -- 1 -- -- -- -- --

Source : [49]

NFL awards and honors

Image
Cushing in 2010.
  • 2× AFC Defensive Rookie of the Month (November 2009 & December 2009) [24]
  • 2× AFC Defensive Player of the Week (2009 weeks 6 & 8) [4]
  • 2009 AFC Defensive Player of the Month of November
  • 2009 Pro Bowl selection (starter)
  • 2009 SN-2nd Team All-Pro
  • 2009 All-Rookie Selection (Sporting News, Pro Football Writers Association)
  • 2009 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • 2011 Team Captain
  • 2011 Team MVP
  • 2011 AP-2nd Team All-Pro
  • 2011 NFL.com ranked 54th best player overall

Personal life

Cushing is one of three children. His mother was born in Germany and his father was born in Bayonne, New Jersey. He is a descendant of the Cushing brothers, who fought in the American Civil War ( Alonzo Cushing having won the Medal of Honor). His brother Michael was a rugby player at Providence College who earned First Team All-American Honors in both his junior and senior seasons.

Cushing is married to his college sweetheart Megan (herself an athlete who had success in USC's women's soccer squad), who he began dating just prior to the NFL draft. The couple has two sons; one was born in 2012 and the other was born in July 2014. [4]