Bush intends to work hard to make transition to NFL

Published: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 1:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 1:56 p.m.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Reggie Bush realizes he will have to prove himself again.

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Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush announces at a news conference at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006, he will forego his senior year at USC to enter the National Football League draft.

AP Photo/Reed Saxon

"Are you big enough? Strong enough? Fast enough? Tough enough? You won't have the answers until the first game," Bush said of the next stage of his football career: the NFL.

Southern California's Heisman-winning tailback with the magical moves announced Thursday that he will pass up his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

"I'll have to position myself to have an impact right away, and that will take a lot of hard work," Bush said. "It's not going to come easy."

USC coach Pete Carroll feels certain Bush will be successful.

"Now the Reggie Bush Show goes to Sundays, and I can't wait to watch him," Carroll said.

The Houston Texans, who haven't had a winning season in their four-year existence, went 2-14 this season to "win" the first pick in April's draft.

Bush has appeared to be the probable No. 1 choice, but Vince Young's decision to declare for the draft after his sensational Rose Bowl performance in Texas' win over USC may have muddled the picture. Houston is Young's hometown.

Texans general manager Charley Casserly is pleased with the scenario.

"All we can say is what has happened here with Reggie Bush and Vince Young declaring, with the addition of Matt Leinart among other players, is that you have a real strong top of the draft," Casserly said. "I think it's much stronger than it was a year ago.

"So what's that mean? It means we're going to get a real good player if we keep the pick. And if we trade the pick, we've got certainly a very valuable commodity to trade."

Casserly thinks Bush would provide an offense with great versatility.

"If you have a Reggie Bush, he's an explosive player. Hands on the ball, he can score any time he gets it," Casserly said. "He can be a runner, he can be a receiver, he can be a returner and he could be a decoy. You put him in motion and all of a sudden he can free up coverages.

"I think he gives you a lot of options, plus he gives you a touchdown-maker and another playmaker on offense."

Bush said he wouldn't mind if the Texans drafted him.

"If they were to pick me, I wouldn't have a problem with that. I'm just excited to have an opportunity to make my mark at the next level, just to play for an NFL team," Bush said Thursday at a news conference on campus.

"Whatever team I go to, whether it's the Texans or another team, I hope I can build the same kind of relationships that I did with my teammates here."

Houston already has a young quarterback in David Carr, so they could opt for Bush and pass on Young. The Texans have 3 1/2 months to make a decision.

Bush was a runaway winner of the Heisman, with Young far back in second place. Leinart, Bush's teammate the past three years and the 2004 Heisman winner, was third. Those players could very well go 1-2-3 in the NFL draft on April 29.

Carroll obviously is eager to see Bush in action in the NFL.

"He's a game-changer, with his speed, instincts, vision and competitiveness. He's just so much fun to watch," the USC coach said in a statement. "He'll take that talent to the NFL and wow them there as a runner, receiver and as a returner."

Carroll was in Northern California to attend the funeral of the father of USC linebacker Rey Maualuga. Talatonu Maualuga died after a long illness.

Bush, who turns 21 in March, made his plans known a day after running mate LenDale White announced he was leaving early to go to the NFL. The elusive Bush had been the Trojans' Lightning to the power-running White's Thunder in the USC backfield.

With Leinart out of eligibility and Bush and White leaving early, All-America receiver Dwayne Jarrett will be USC's highest-profile offensive star going into next season.

Jarrett said it's hard to see Bush go.

"But he has nothing else to prove in college football," Jarrett said. "And I know he is going to do well up there."

The 6-foot, 200-pound Bush, from the San Diego suburb of Spring Valley, had 1,740 yards rushing and 2,890 all-purpose yards this season for the Trojans, denied an unprecedented third straight national title by the 41-38 loss to Texas in the national championship game.

"I almost feel like I'm in debt to this program _ the opportunity to win two national championships back-to-back and compete for a third, win the Heisman Trophy, and the opportunity to play close to home," said Bush, who wore San Diego's 619 area code painted underneath his eyes during USC games.

Bush said he was the first of his family to go to a four-year college. The political science major said emphatically, "I will get my degree, and I will get it at USC."

He averaged an astounding 8.9 yards per carry this season, caught 37 passes for 478 yards and led the nation in all-purpose yards with 222.3 per game. Bush shared the tailback position for three years with White, and the two combined for 99 career touchdowns to break the NCAA record of 97 set by Army's Glenn Davis and Felix "Doc" Blanchard from 1943-46.

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