One of the most intriguing prospects in the 2007 NFL Draft,
running back Michael Bush (Louisville), still
has plenty to prove to everyone in the football world. Entering the 2006 campaign,
the Kentucky native was one of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy. Things
went awry for him, however, after a broken leg ended his season against the
University of Kentucky in Week 1. Now, instead of being a sure-fire top pick,
Bush is facing an uphill climb just to be selected during the first day of April's
At Male High School, located in Louisville, Ky., Bush was a do-it-all player,
excelling at wideout, running back, linebacker, defensive end, safety (where
he was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Tom Lemming, of College Sports Television)
and quarterback. After leading his team to the Kentucky state title game in
2002, Bush decided to attend his hometown University of Louisville. Male High
School is currently holds the third-highest winning percentage in America.
As a true freshman in 2003, Bush finished third on the squad in rushing with
503 yards and six scores on the ground, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. After
that season, he was named to the Conference-USA All-Freshman team.
The 2004 season came and Louisville fans were able to see even more out of
the budding superstar as Bush ran for 734 yards with seven touchdowns (second
on the team). He was thriving in head coach Bobby
Petrino's offense and was clearly one of college football's top talents.
In his junior season of 2005, Bush lit the nation on fire. That year, he scored
an astounding 23 times (a school record) while averaging 14.4 points per game
(tops in the nation). He ran for 1,143 yards that year, which was good for first
in the Big East Conference. He was rewarded by being named to the All-Conference
Team and likely would have been a high draft pick had he decided to enter the
NFL a year early.
As stated earlier, Bush broke his leg in the team's first game of the 2006
campaign. Regardless, his career with the Cardinals
will not soon be forgotten. After three seasons, he finished second in school
history in touchdowns (38) and seventh in yards on the ground (2,386).
Bush was primed to enter the draft in April as one of the top players at his
position, despite sitting out the season, until he recently underwent a second
procedure on his broken leg that is expected to keep him out two more months.
Bush has great size at 6-foot-1, 243 pounds, making him extremely tough to
bring down. He's a powerful runner who excels between the tackles and keeps
the play going by moving the pile. He does a nice job running after contact
and will always pick up the extra yards. Bush is also a great athlete for his
size and has deceptive speed. That speed makes him a threat on the edge as well
as in-between the hashes.
Bush's versatility is a huge plus as well, as Petrino often lined him up as
an extra receiver in the slot and was able to move him around in the backfield.
He holds his own as a receiver as well as he has shown competent hands and looks
comfortable running routes.
Bush doesn't have as much tread on his tires as he could. Bush played just
three years in college and started just 15 games. That is something that has
to be accounted for.
Obviously everyone will talk about the broken leg and how that will affect
Bush's play. This will undoubtedly be compounded after his recent surgery on
the eve of the draft, and it could cost him dearly as far as draft stock goes.
The only time Bush's size will hurt him is when he runs too tall, giving defenders
a bigger target to tackle. His "so-so" agility to go with his anything-but-blazing
speed makes him a mediocre threat to go the distance.
Some people are also under the belief that Bush may be a product of the system
he played in at college. That accusation isn't helped by the fact that his predecessor
at Louisville (Carolina Panthers running back Eric
Shelton) has been a bust to this point in his career.
It will be interesting to see where Bush ultimately ends up going once draft
day rolls around.
Bush was looking to be a possible second-round draft choice before his latest
surgery, and now he will be awfully lucky to be a first day pick. Realistically,
Bush can expect to slide into the fourth round due to his injury and lack of
a proven track record in college beyond his junior season. While he is a talent
to be had, how much risk does one team want to invest into finding out for themselves?
A number of teams need a running back, but most of the teams that do probably
do not want to gamble on the chance Bush could be a mid-round steal for their
ball club. With serious long-term durability questions at hand, Bush may find
himself being drafted by an unlikely team, one with a fixture in the backfield
already. This would permit his selecting team to allow him to sit much of -
if not the entire - 2007 season to give his leg a chance to fully recuperate.