Bush preparing for scrutiny on NFL scouts' stage

4/1/2006 - NFL USC Trojans

LOS ANGELES -- Less than 24 hours before his Sunday coming-out party for NFL scouts, Reggie Bush, who hasn't participated in a meaningful game since Southern California's streak-snapping loss to Texas in the Rose Bowl national championship matchup more than three months ago, found the old competitive juices flowing again.

"I'm anxious to get it over with," the breathtakingly versatile tailback and Heisman Trophy winner told ESPN.com, "and I'm excited about performing again. I'm not nervous, not at all. That's not the word. I mean, I've played in front of 95,000 people, so a couple hundred [scouts] is actually a small crowd. But it's my nature to want to do well. No, to do a lot better than well. I like it when all the eyes are on me."

Given the assemblage of talent that will be on the field Sunday for Southern California's "pro day" session with NFL scouts, a contingent which features at least five prospects projected as first-round choices in the April 29 draft, there may not be enough pairs of eyes on campus to keep track of all the star power.

After all, how many college "pro day" workouts have a pair of Heisman Trophy winners, both of whom likely will be chosen among the top five, on the field at the same time? Or three prospects who could be off the draft board by the middle of the first round?

The positional drills in the afternoon will have one Heisman winner, quarterback Matt Leinart, throwing to Bush, the man who kept him from claiming a second consecutive Heisman Trophy.

Suffice it to say that league scouts, their curiosity level piqued by the fact that most of the USC players in the draft pool did not work out at the combine sessions in Indianapolis, have eagerly awaited the Sunday auditions. The roll call will have representatives from all 32 NFL franchises and probably will include general managers and personnel directors from every team, along with several head coaches.

In the last few days, Bush, who has been diligently working out with trainers here in preparation for his one wholesale performance in front of scouts -- there will be some private workouts in the next few weeks as well -- has grown anxious as well.

"You know, the good kind of anxious," Bush said, "like you get before a game. That's the kind of feeling that has been building in me. The game feeling. I'm treating this like a game. And while I don't know what's left to prove [to the scouts], I definitely want to put on a show. I want to do what I've been doing the last three years. Go out and light it up."

Bush said he will perform these drills: the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump and the standard 225-pound bench press. He laughed when asked to predict a 40-yard time, then declined, saying only that he wants to run "really fast." He did however, make a friendly steak-dinner wager with a reporter as to whether he can hit 40 inches in the vertical jump.

On the field, he will do all the running back drills, run-pass routes, and catch passes from Leinart.

That regimen should be sufficient enough to satisfy scouts that Bush is the real deal, and that his talents will make him a dynamic playmaker at the NFL level. In his three seasons at Southern Cal, he posted 6,617 all-purpose yards, averaged 10.4 yards per touch, and scored on runs, receptions, kickoff returns and punt returns. His career 7.3-yard average per rushing attempt is an NCAA record. Bush registered more than 2,000 all-purpose yards in each of his last two seasons.

Of course, no matter how impressed the scouts from the 32 teams are, Bush figures to be off the board on the first selection. He dined on Saturday with general manager Charley Casserly and first-year head coach Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans, who own the top pick. There is a Sunday dinner scheduled with Tennessee officials but the Titans, who own the No. 3 slot in the first round, are probably wasting their money picking up the tab for Bush to enjoy a steak.

"I just feel like I'm the guy, the No. 1 pick, no doubt in my mind," Bush said. "I'm 100 percent confident. And on Sunday, I plan to go out and seal the deal."

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