Former Gator matures to All-Big East


Louisville cornerback Adrian Bushell talks with reporters at the Superdome in New Orleans. Bushell played for Florida before leaving. Louisville will face Florida in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday. (The Associated Press)

Published: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 10:09 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 10:09 a.m.

NEW ORLEANS -- The Adrian Bushell in New Orleans this week hardly resembles the Adrian Bushell we saw in Gainesville.

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Louisville cornerback Adrian Bushell talks with reporters at the Superdome in New Orleans. Bushell played for Florida before leaving. Louisville will face Florida in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday. (The Associated Press)

It's more than the fact he has turned potential into polished excellence. It's more than a body that has filled out.

“He's a totally different person,” said Louisville defensive coordinator Vance Bedford.

Bushell was part of the 2008 recruiting class at Florida. He redshirted in part because of academic problems, then played in 2009 and had 14 tackles and an interception. He played in the Sugar Bowl the last time the Gators were in New Orleans.

Now he's playing against them, against his Gainesville roommates Frankie Hammond Jr. and Omarius Hines.

Because the Bushell that was a Gator wasn't the Bushell that is now a Cardinal.

“I just wasn't the guy I am today,” he said. “I had some growing up to do. I was uncoachable at times. I wasn't going to study hall on time.”

He was not allowed to practice with the team in the spring of 2010 because of academic issues and then decided to transfer. Bushell went to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.

In a way, it was as if he was scared straight.

“It was pretty hard,” Bushell said. “It was like going from Beverly Hills to the projects. I had to come up with my own money for gloves, cleats, extra socks I wanted.

“I took everything for granted when I was at Florida. I lost that opportunity and I knew I had to do everything I could do to get back to the game I loved. It was a little depressing at times. Millions of kids would love to have been in the position I was in at Florida. The road I was going on was a pretty bad road.”

Bushell excelled on the field at Coffeyville and got his academics in order. And after a year of junior college football, he wanted desperately to get back to Div. I football.

Charlie Strong had been the defensive coordinator at Florida when Bushell was there and had taken the head coaching job at Louisville after Bushell's last season in Gainesville. He knew Bushell had talent but Bushell had to show he had matured.

“I felt I had grown up enough for him to notice that I was a different guy,” Bushell said.

Strong took a chance on Bushell and the cornerback has delivered. In each of his two seasons at Louisville he has been named All-Big East.

And now he gets a chance to go up against his former team in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday night.

“I wasn't watching TV when they announced it but someone called and told me,” Bushell said. “I was like, ‘Stop it,' I was so excited. I never thought I'd get a chance to play against Florida. I didn't get to play much there so they don't know that I can play.”

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