Many prospective college students decide which school they want to attend based on quite a few factors — location, size of the student body, academic reputation, quality of the sports teams, and the list goes on.
When Oday Aboushi was looking for where he wished to spend his four years as a student-athlete, he considered a different factor before deciding on the University of Virginia: D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
"He's one of the reasons why I chose the school," the fifth-round rookie tackle said, "sending an offensive tackle like Brick to the NFL, and his being one of the best out there."
The two are also native New Yorkers, with Aboushi hailing from Brooklyn and Ferguson from Freeport on Long Island.
Ferguson and Aboushi were never teammates at Virginia, as Ferguson entered the draft in 2006, three years before Aboushi started his own tenure at UVa. Now that they are Jets teammates, though, Oday loves how easy it is to approach his teammate when looking for guidance, describing the three-time Pro Bowler as "a Class-A guy."
"He's always there if you need to ask a question or if you need some help," he said. "Being as open as he is to the younger guys, and even to the older guys and the coaches, definitely puts a nice spin on things."
Of course, athletes can only learn so much before getting out onto the field and allowing their innate physical ability to do the rest.
For the 6'5", 308-pound Aboushi, adjusting to the speed of the game has been the most difficult transition from the ACC to the NFL.
And it's not just the physical speed of opposing pass rushers.
"It's everything," he said. "Recognizing coverages faster and defensive fronts faster, going through your assignments quicker, adjustments on the fly even when the ball is snapped."
With the practice and a daily dose of reps in training camp, Oday Aboushi feels like things have "been going really well." Now he, like so many of his teammates, is ready to start perfecting his craft against guys not wearing green.
"All this hard work, starting with OTAs to training camp right now, it gets you excited," he said. "You just want to see a different color out there and do what you're taught and do what you've been working at the whole time."
One thing Oday has not been working on is playing an O-line position other than tackle, but he's ready for that challenge if and when the coaches ask it of him.
"In the NFL, you have to be prepared to start all positions on the offensive line," he said, "so I'm open to learning guard."
There's one thing that Oday Aboushi has been doing and will continue to do, and it's something that he's learned on his own, without the help of Ferguson or any coach he's ever played under.
"The only thing you can ask for is to bust your butt and work as hard as you can," he said, "so that's what I'm going to do."