Once upon a time, Lloyd Cushenberry IIII took some advice from former LSU coaches Jeff Grimes and Cam Cameron to heart.
They told Cushenberry while they were recruiting him that he had the makings of an excellent collegiate center and maybe make it to the NFL.
Friday night, Cameron and Grimes had to nodding their approval when Cushenberry, a two-year starting center for the Tigers, was taken No. 83 overall by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the NFL draft.
“The offseason before I started at LSU, I started to teach myself to snap,” Cushenberry told Tiger Rag assistant editor Will Weathers in the April issue of Tiger Rag Magazine. “Once I got to LSU and to stay consistent and get in that rhythm, my roommate (former quarterback) Lindsey Scott took a ball from the equipment room and I got snaps from him every night, both in the shotgun and under center. It just kind of became a habit.”
Cushenberry played a team-high 1,037 snaps last season for 15-0 national championship Tigers. He was the leader of a line that won the Joe Moore Award as college football’s best offensive line.
LSU was 25-3 with Cushenberry at center. Last year, he was named first team All-SEC and second team All-American (American Football Coaches Association and Football Writers Association of America) last season.
He was also named LSU’s permanent team captain and football MVP.
For someone who began his college career as a three-star prospect regarded as the nation’s No. 82 guard and No. 1,552nd rated player, his play as a sophomore and junior got him noticed.
He endeared himself to NFL scouts and general managers during the interview process at both the Senior Bowl in Mobile and the scouting combine in Indianapolis with the fact he graduated in 3 ½ years in Sports Administration.
“The week was great,” Cushenberry said of his time at the Senior Bowl. “I practiced well and did some good things on the field. I feel like I excelled off the field because people didn’t expect me to come out and show what type of person I am. They got to see how smart I was as far as football goes, how much I loved the game. It helped me out a lot.”
Before the scouting combine, Cushenberry trained for 4 ½ weeks at EXOS Athletes’ Performance Institute in Pensacola, Fla. where he worked on speed, power and becoming more explosive.
Cushenberry was timed at 5.27 in the 40-yard dash at the combine where he registered 25 reps on the bench press.
He said prior to draft he didn’t have inkling which team might draft him.
“Between the Senior Bowl and combine, I met with every team,” he said. “There may be a few teams looking for a center or guard, so there are a few teams in mind. But you really don’t know until the free agency stuff clears up. That’s when you can kind of see what teams may be in the hunt and how things shake out.”
NFL draft expert Mike Detillier felt Cushenberry would the first center taken in the draft.
“He has long arms and knows how to use those arms and hands to keep defenders at bay,” Detillier said. “He does an excellent job at locking on an opponent and finishing him off a run blocker. He anchors well in pass protection.”