Leinart, Bush Heisman Finalists

Dec. 8, 2004

USC quarterback Matt Leinart and tailback Reggie Bush joined Oklahoma quarterback Jason White and running back Adrian Peterson and Utah signal caller Alex Smith as Heisman Trophy finalists, earning invitations to New York for Saturday's Heisman presentation ceremony, the Downtown Athletic Club announced on Wednesday (Dec. 8).

Leinart, who finished sixth in the Heisman balloting as a sophomore last season, has passed for 2,990 yards and 28 touchdowns with only six interceptions in leading the Trojans (12-0) to the Bowl Championship Series title game.

'It's a great honor,' Leinart said. 'It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to New York and be involved in the Heisman ceremony along with four other great players. And, of course, it's great to get to go there with one of my teammates. I'm looking forward to it. I think every one of the players has a good chance of winning. Everyone is deserving of it.'

Bush has 2,181 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns this season. His 181.8 all-purpose yards per game average is fifth-best in Division I-A. He closed out the regular season with a bang against UCLA, rushing for a career-high 204 yards on 15 carries, catching six passes for 73 yards and adding 58 return yards.

Both Leinart and Bush are vying to become USC's sixth Heisman Trophy winner. Quarterback Carson Palmer is the Trojans' most recent winner, taking home the 2002 trophy. USC's other Heisman Trophy winners are current Athletic Director Mike Garrett (1965), O.J. Simpson (1968), Charles White (1979) and Marcus Allen (1981).

'It's an honor to be considered as one of the top players in the nation and to be with some of the nation's greatest players,' Bush said. 'I think it's good for our program at USC, too, because it shows the caliber of our program to have two players invited to New York. And it will be extra special to be there with my high school teammate (at Helix High in La Mesa, Calif.), Alex Smith. Everyone who will be there has a good chance to win the Heisman.'

The announcement will be made on Saturday (Dec. 11) at 5 p.m. (PST) on ESPN.

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