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Q&A w/ Texans First Round Pick Brian Cushing

rian Cushing told Sporting News’ Bill Eichenberger he would have been disappointed if he had not been the first of three talented Southern Cal linebackers to be chosen in the NFL draft. Taken by Houston with the 15th pick in the first round, Cushing was spared that Saturday and brings an incredible work ethic and sizable chip on his shoulder to the NFL.

Q: Were you beginning to wonder when you were weren’t picked earlier in the draft?
A: Around 12, 13 and 14, I was getting a little nervous, but the Houston Texans called me up from an unfamiliar area code and my agent told me they were going to take me, and I was just thrilled.

Q: How does it feel to be the first USC linebacker off the board?
A: It feels good. I was expecting it and would have been a little disappointed if it didn’t happen. I guess I have those bragging rights a little bit.

Q: Can you describe your emotions when you finally heard your name called?
A: It’s like 22 years of relief coming right out of you. It’s everything I ever imagined. I was lucky enough to be in the Green Room. And now I’m a Houston Texan.

Q: What are you going to miss about Southern Cal?

A: Just the team camaraderie. The fight songs. Coach (Pete) Carroll. The intensity he brought to the field. It was a very surreal kind of atmosphere that he was able to establish. He was able to distinguish fun from hard work. At just the snap of his fingers, guys were ready to play.

Q: When you look back on this day, what you did you think you are going to remember most?
A: Just all the people who were here today, all the people who really helped me out. And I was able to bring all of them up on stage with me, too.

Q: Now that it’s all over, what do you say to those who doubted that you would ever reach this goal?
A: Well, you know, there is a lot to say, but I’m not going to. I’m going to continue to prove people wrong with my play like I have done for the past 22 years.

Q: Do you feel like you still have something to prove?
A: I always feel like I have something to prove. My entire life I’ve been underrated. But that’s fine.

Q: Has playing in the USC defense as opposed to somewhere else better prepared you for the pro game?
A: Absolutely. I think it definitely propelled my learning. Coach Carroll just gave us another way to grow and get better every day.

Q: Early in your football career, you were coached by your father, Frank. What impact did that have on you?
A: At that time, he was the toughest coach I ever had. He was one who prepared for everything. He’s the one who told me never to be afraid of any man, never to back down from competition. And it’s paid off to this point.

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