Fifteen days from kickoff, Wildcats set for training camp scrimmage Saturday at Parkside
Adam Cushing is in his 11th season on the Wildcat staff and his ninth as a full-time assistant. In February of 2009, he was promoted to offensive line coach after previously serving as the Wildcats' superbacks coach.
Cushing also made a name for himself on the recruiting front during his days as the Wildcats recruiting coordinator (2008-11), twice earning recognition from industry media members as one of the Big Ten's top recruiters (Rivals.com in 2007, ESPN.com in 2009).
In his first year in charge of the offensive line, Cushing molded a young group which gelled and excelled toward the end of the 2009 season. The line blocked for eventual fourth-round NFL Draft pick Mike Kafka and contributed to a record-breaking offensive performance in the 2010 Outback Bowl, where Kafka threw for a school-record 532 yards while NU broke the NCAA record for offensive plays in a game.
Cushing's offensive line came together in 2010 to pave the way for four 100-yard rushing performances in Northwestern's final six games. Overall, NU's regular-season rushing total increased 25 percent over 2009. Junior left tackle Al Netter earned All-Big Ten honorable mentions from the media for the second-straight season while center Ben Burkett began the year as a member of the Rimington Trophy watch list for the second-straight time. The group helped Dan Persa earn an All-Big Ten first team honor from the coaches and a second-team nod from the media, allowing him to complete a Big Ten-record 73.5 percent of his passes on the year.
Cushing returned one of the nation's most experienced offensive lines in 2011, with newcomer Brandon Vitabile joining seniors Al Netter and Ben Burkett and juniors Pat Ward and Brian Mulroe in the trenches. All five started all 13 games for the 'Cats, helping NU post the fifth-best rushing attack in the Big Ten along the way. After going without a 300-yard rushing game since 2005, Northwestern achieved the feat twice in 2011 (320 vs. Eastern Illinois, 317 at Indiana). Cushing's group further demonstrated its prowess in the running game on the game-sealing touchdown drive in the fourth quarter at Nebraska; NU ran on 13 straight plays to cover 66 yards to paydirt and eat up 7:14 off the game clock. The left side of Cushing's line, Netter and Mulroe, earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades after the season.
Mulroe and Ward then anchored an O-Line that in 2012 was simply one of the Big Ten's best. With the addition of converted superback Jack Konopka at right tackle and first-year starter Neal Deiters to right guard, the unit helped Venric Mark become Northwestern's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006 and guided an offense that finished fourth in the Big Ten with 225.5 rushing yards per game. Cushing's group also led the league in fewest sacks allowed on the year, with just 16 surrendered in 13 games.
As the Wildcats' superbacks' coach, Cushing mentored then-true freshman Drake Dunsmore, who was named to the Sporting News Freshman All-Big Ten team in 2007. Dunsmore ranked third on the team with 12.8 yards per catch among players with 10 or more catches, picking up 141 yards on 11 receptions.
After Dunsmore was hurt prior to 2008, Cushing's crew diversified well. Josh Rooks and Brendan Mitchell each caught touchdown passes while helping block for an offense that averaged 141.8 yards on the ground per game.
A native of Chicago, Cushing joined the Wildcats after spending two years as an assistant coach at the University of La Verne in La Verne, Calif. He coached tight ends in 2002 and the offensive line in 2003.
Cushing is a former player at prep power Mt. Carmel High School, and went on to play at NCAA Division III University of Chicago.
At Chicago, Cushing was a three-year starter at tight end and was named to the all-University Athletic Association team three consecutive years (1999-2001). He helped the Maroons win UAA titles in 1998 and 2000. Cushing was a team captain his senior year. He finished his collegiate career with 72 receptions, good enough for 10th on U of C's career catches list.
A Dean's List honoree, Cushing graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology from Chicago in 2002. He completed work on his master's degree in general education at La Verne in 2004.
Cushing's older brother, Matt, was an Academic All-Big Ten tight end at Illinois and played four years for the Illini (1994-97). He also played six seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cushing is married to Dr. Jaime Cushing, DDS, and has two daughters, Abigail and Dana. They reside in Evanston.
Jaime and Adam Cushing with their daughter, Abigail