Sabino's Matt Bushman is taken down by two Nogales defenders in the Division III playoffs last year. Sabino's loss to Nogales has been Bushman's offseason motivation.


Over the next two days, we will feature our picks of Southern Arizona's top preseason high school football players.

Our countdown continues today with Sabino tight end/defensive end Matt Bushman, a highly recruited player who will make a difference on both sides of the ball for the Sabercats.

Matt Bushman

• The rundown: Matt Bushman, TE/DE, 6-5, 215, Sabino, senior

• Who he is: A strong and skillful two-way starter with a chip on his shoulder. Not only is Bushman hoping to finish out his high school career by leading the Sabercats to the Division III state title, he's ready to make up for a disappointing one-and-done playoff season as a junior. The Sabercats finished the regular season 10-0 but were upset at home by Nogales in the first round of the state tournament. That has fueled Bushman the entire offseason. The senior has put on 15 to 20 pounds of muscle, according to coach Jay Campos, who said that will make him even more of a dominant player than he was last year when he caught 41 passes for 951 yards and 10 touchdowns as a tight end and registered 40 tackles and four sacks as a defensive end. Campos said the additional power and explosiveness has helped Bushman, who has added around 40 pounds in both his bench press and squat, become a better blocker. Because of that, he plans on attaching him to the line more than before and moving him around to various positions. "I think you'll see a different Bushman this year, in terms of strength," Campos said.

• Proof he's good: The offers. Bushman, who also plays baseball and basketball, received nine Division I offers for football but has narrowed his choice down to Arizona, BYU and Utah. He plans on making his decision within the next couple of weeks so he can get it out of the way and focus on the season. Both BYU and Utah have also offered Bushman baseball scholarships, but he hasn't decided if he wants to continue playing both.

• He said it: "I just want to go try to win a state championship, that's the big thing. If I catch the ball, I'll be fine with that. If I don't get the ball some games, just blocking and playing my defense will be fine with me. I just want to get out and win every game." -Bushman