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Saturday, April 8, 2006
Bush among five prospects accepting draft invites

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

Southern California tailback and Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush tops a list of five prospects who have accepted invitations to attend the NFL draft in New York on April 29, league officials confirmed.

The group also includes quarterbacks Matt Leinart of USC and Vince Young of Texas, North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams and Virginia offensive tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. The list could expand by one or two players and the league hopes to add at least one more defensive prospect.

Typically, the NFL invites 5-7 players for the first day of the draft, which for the first time will be held this year at Radio City Music Hall. Unlike some professional sports leagues, the NFL is very selective, and tries to choose only top 10 prospects, to avoid embarrassment to a player if he slides in the first round.

Despite some trades anticipated in the early part of the lottery, all five players who have confirmed they will attend the draft figure to be chosen in the top 10, even if the selection order is shuffled by deals.

It is not known if any players invited to the draft turned down the opportunity to attend.

"From the time I was a kid, I dreamed about being the first pick in the draft," Bush told ESPN.com last week. "Not just a first-round pick, but the very first named called out. And part of that dream is being up there on stage in New York, shaking the commissioner's hand, putting on the hat of the team that picks you. I have been waiting most of my life to experience all of that and to have my family experience it, too. No way would I miss it."

Bush visited all day Thursday with officials from the Houston Texans, who own the first selection, but who did not provide the Trojans' star any concrete indication he will be their choice. That said, the consensus is that the Texans, who will be making the top pick for the second time in five years, will choose Bush over Young, a Houston native.

In fact, the Texans are expected to soon open contract negotiations with Bush and agent Joel Segal, with the aim of completing a deal before the draft.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.