Leinart, Bush work out for NFL coaches, scouts
April 2, 2006
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Matt Leinart rolled to his left, and then back to his right before unleashing a perfectly thrown pass to Reggie Bush, who caught it some 30 yards downfield just inside the right sideline.
Just like it was drawn up, and the fans at Howard Jones Field cheered politely.
Then, it was on to the next play at USC's Pro Day on Sunday, where 19 former Southern California players worked out for more than 100 NFL representatives including head coaches John Fox of Carolina, Jeff Fisher of Tennessee and Gary Kubiak of Houston.
Most of the 19 are sure to be drafted later this month, including anywhere from three to six in the first round.
Thus, the large turnout, and those on hand were properly impressed.
'This is like a mini-combine, from an NFL standpoint,' Fox said.
The majority of prospective prospects take part in the NFL Combine at Indianapolis every February, but several schools hold their own Pro Days.
'It's like a who's who, and it's just one university,' said Baltimore Ravens assistant John Fassel, the son of former Giants coach Jim Fassel.
'This is the greatest aggregation of offensive firepower ever assembled on one pro scouting day from one school,' said Leigh Steinberg, who represents Leinart and offensive tackle Winston Justice.
'Its like `Star Wars' with hundreds of recruits and media from across the country,' Steinberg said, adding he hadn't seen anything like this is his 32 years representing players.
'Pete Carroll has really outdone himself,' Steinberg said of the USC coach. 'Pete has put the primacy on USC football on display for the whole nation to see.'
Carroll, who has guided the Trojans to a 48-4 record over the past four seasons, combined junior day, an annual event where several prospective high school recruits tour the campus, with Pro Day.
'This is what we were dreaming it would be - just like this,' he said.
With about 1,000 fans and recruits in the stands at Cromwell Field, the players took part in several drills including the vertical jump, 40-yard dash, standing long jump, weight lifting and different cone drills.
Then, everyone moved over to Howard Jones Field across the street for more drills.
Bush and Leinart, the last two Heisman Trophy winners who many experts believe will go 1-2 in the draft, were generally satisfied with how they did.
And they were glad the day was over.
'Oh, yeah,' Bush said with a smile. 'I'm going to take a vacation.'
Bush outdid his former teammates in three areas, clocking 4.33 seconds in the 40, recording a 40 1/2-inch vertical jump, and going 10 feet, 8 1/2 inches in the standing broad jump. He had 24 repetitions bench-pressing 225 pounds.
'I would have liked to have run a little faster - I thought I could push a 4.29 out there, a 4.3-flat,' he said. 'This part of it is just trying to separate yourselves from the pack.'
Bush, a runaway winner of the Heisman last season, has already done that.
'There's a lot of guys who are fast,' said Baltimore Ravens assistant Mark Carrier, a defensive back at USC from 1986-89. 'What makes him special is what he does when he has the ball in his hands. The guy up the street might run 4.2. But there aren't many guys who can do what he can do with the football.'
It's been anticipated for months that Bush will go No. 1 in the April 29-30 draft to the Houston Texans. He said he met Saturday night with representatives of the Texans.
'It wasn't anything serious,' he said, adding a similar meeting was planned Sunday night with the Tennessee Titans.
Leinart threw around 45 passes and was on-target with almost all of them. Afterward, he spoke of showing his athleticism, ability to throw on the run, and arm strength.
He had a vertical jump of 37 inches, but didn't run the 40.
'They know I'm not a running quarterback - the 40-yard dash for me is pointless,' he said.
Steinberg, who has represented eight overall No. 1 selections in the draft, said he wouldn't be surprised if Leinart winds up No. 1.
'This day explodes the myth of heady quarterback with intangibles, cements Matt's status as the franchise quarterback pick at the top of the draft,' Steinberg said.
Two potential first-round picks might be heading in opposite directions. Offensive tackle Winston Justice, who weighed in at 320 pounds, had a vertical jump of 39 inches and did 38 repetitions bench-pressing 225 pounds.
'It was like there was air in the bar, no iron,' Fassel said, shaking his head.
Running back LenDale White didn't run the 40 because of a sore hamstring, and did 15 reps in the bench-press - only one more than punter Tom Malone. Plus, he weighed in at 244 pounds, which is probably more than what NFL teams want.
'I was surprised,' Bush said regarding the fact that White didn't run the 40. 'He said he was hurt.'