Reggie Bush has the number "619" etched over the eye black he wears on game days. Some have since suggested it represents the number of different moves USC’s electrifying tailback has on the field. But it is really a tribute to the area code for southwest San Diego County, where Bush grew up.
"For me, it’s just a way of saying ‘Hi’ to everybody back
home and to remember where I came from," he said. "I was blessed to
be from there and hopefully I can continue the tradition of Heisman Trophies that
come from there."
USC’s Marcus Allen won the Heisman in 1981. Colorado’s Rashaan Salaam
won in 1994, and Texas’ Ricky Williams earned the trophy in 1998. The 6-foot,
200-pound Bush, a two-time All-American and the pride of Helix High in La Mesa,
has just joined that honored group.
Bush set the mood by wearing a pinstriped Yankees cap the day that Rose Bowl announced
that the top-ranked Trojans would play second-ranked Texas on Jan. 4 for the BCS
"I plan on going to New York, so I’m preparing myself," Bush said.
Indeed, the junior was one of three Heisman finalists – along with Texas
junior quarterback Vince Young and USC senior quarterback Matt Leinart, last year’s
winner – who was at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square for the Heisman award
presentation. All three made compelling cases for college football’s most
prestigious award. But only one candidate jumped out at you in 3D.
Bush rushed for 1,658 yards on just 187 carries for an incredible 8.89-yard average,
tops in the country. He also led the nation with 2,611 all-purpose yards for a
217.6-yard average and scored 18 touchdowns. But it was the way he scored –
the highlights he manufactured on a regular basis and the fact he averaged 34.8
yards on each touchdown for a top-ranked 12-0 team that has won 34 straight games
and two straight AP national championships – that touched a nerve among Heisman
voters on each coast.
Running back Maurice Drew, from Southern Cal’s bitter crosstown rival UCLA,
was at the Coliseum on Nov. 19 when Bush racked up 294 yards on 23 carries and
had a Pac-10 record 513 yards of total offense as the Trojans outlasted Fresno
State, 50-42. He was an eyewitness to Bush’s hard-to-believe 50-yard touchdown
Bush raced around left end at full speed and then, when he looked like he was
hemmed in some 30 yards downfield, he put on the brakes to dodge a would-be tackler,
shifted directions and cruised all the way across the field and into the end zone.
"I was sitting on the Fresno side when it happened," Drew recalled.
"I just had to get up, clap and applaud. I think some of their fans were
mad at me but it was such an incredible play."
Bush followed up that performance when he rushed for 260 yards (on 24 carries)
and two touchdowns as the Trojans completed their perfect regular season by blowing
away UCLA, 66-19, at the Coliseum.
"He’s got my vote," said Leinart, who earned a ballot as a past
recipient. Bush has plenty of supporters elsewhere, too. He has earned the nickname
"The President" and has spawned huge sales of No. 5 jerseys and "Prez
Bush for Heisman" T-shirts with his dazzling play.
"You hear the oohs and aahs," said Trojans center Ryan Kalil, "and
all you want to do is look at the big scoreboard and see what happened."
© 2005, New York Daily News.
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
Sports: Football [The Tradition Continues]
The Tradition Continues: USC’s Bush Has Joined an Exclusive Group
By Dick Weiss