NEW YORK -- Reggie Bush loves roller coasters -- and it makes
perfect sense. Both bring thrills with breathtaking bursts of
"I guess that's kind of how I am on the field all those twists
and turns and stuff like that," Southern California's human thrill
The most exciting player in college football also became the
best player in 2005, and now Bush can add The Associated Press
Player of the Year award to the haul of hardware he's accumulated.
The voting went like it did in the Heisman Trophy balloting: The
running back blew away the field. He received 59 votes from a panel
of 65 media members.
Texas quarterback Vince Young received five votes and Georgia
quarterback D.J. Shockley got the other.
Bush and the top-ranked Trojans will play Young and No. 2 Texas
in the Rose Bowl for the national championships.
Bush has also won the Walter Camp player of the year award, the
Doak Walker Award as best running back in the country and was a
unanimous AP first-team All-American.
Bush breaks a string of five straight quarterbacks to win the
award and is the first running back to be AP Player of the Year
since 1999, when Ron Dayne of Wisconsin did it.
For the third straight season, the AP player of the year and
Heisman winner are the same. USC quarterback Matt Leinart won both
last season, and Jason White of Oklahoma did it the year before.
Ricky Williams of Texas won the first AP Player of the Year
award in 1998.
Bush, a 200-pound package of fast-twitch muscles, put to rest
any doubt that he could be an every-down back this year -- more than
just an elusive change-of-pace runner and explosive kick returner.
He added a solid five pounds to his 6-foot frame and got a taste
of how one of the best in the business prepares when he worked out
with San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson during the
The two have known each other since Bush was a senior at Helix
High School, just outside San Diego. They finally managed to
coordinate a training session and Tomlinson left Bush wiped out.
"I think he's the best running back right now and I just wanted
to get a chance to work out with him, see what it takes to be that
guy and get to the level he's at," Bush said in a recent phone
interview. "Whatever you think is the most you can work out,
Bush closed the season with two spectacular games, slashing and
swerving his way to 554 yards rushing in wins over Fresno State and
His stop-in-mid-sprint-and-cut-across-the-field TD run against
the Bulldogs was the ultimate showstopper in a Heisman-clinching
performance. Bush put up 513 all-purpose yards in a 50-42 victory.
For the season, he has 1,658 yards rushing with an 8.9-yard
average per carry.
Only lopsided victories and USC's all-star cast kept Bush's
numbers down. The Trojans' record-setting offense became the first
in NCAA history to have a 3,000-yard passer (Matt Leinart), two
1,000-yard rushers (Bush and LenDale White), and a 1,000-yard
receiver (Dwayne Jarrett).
Bush acknowledges that sharing the spotlight -- and the football
-- hasn't always been easy, even as USC racked up 37 wins in 38
games and two national championships during his career.
"Even though we're winning, there's a lot of stuff behind the
scenes," he said. "I think at times it might have been a little
frustrating just wanting to be that guy, the main guy. But we've
learned to adjust to it. I think that was mainly a problem early in
my career here, like my freshman year, just trying to adjust to not
being the guy."
Now the question is, will Bush hang around for another season at
USC. He appears to be a lock to go No. 1 in the NFL draft, maybe to
play with former high school teammate Alex Smith in San Francisco.
The junior has only said he'll decide after the Rose Bowl,
though at least one media report, citing anonymous sources, stated
he has already made up his mind and won't return for his senior
Whether it's sooner or later, Bush will eventually make his
living doing the only thing he's ever really wanted to do.
"It's kind of hard for me to imagine myself not playing
football because I've been doing that my whole life," he said. "I
know if I wasn't playing football I'd be doing something connected