Underclassmen under gun; the view from Vegas

The worst kept draft secret went public Thursday as Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush officially threw his hat into the college lottery ring. Several other underclassmen still are tussling with final decisions on whether to leave school early for the draft with a Sunday deadline looming. Here's the most up-to-date information, along with practice reports for this weekend's Las Vegas All American Classic all-star game.

Bush, whom the Houston Texans have stated they will select with the draft's first pick, has formerly announced his decision to turn pro.

"This is something I have dreamed of since Pop Warner. I have struggled with this decision. I don't know if it was a good decision," Bush said. "I'll have to position myself to have an impact right away, and that will take a lot of hard work. It's not going to come easy."

On possibly landing up in Houston, the USC start said, "If they were to pick me, I wouldn't have a problem with that. I'm just excited to have an opportunity to make my mark at the next level, just to play for an NFL team. Whatever team I go to, whether it's the Texans or another team, I hope I can build the same kind of relationships that I did with my teammates here."

"Are you big enough? Strong enough? Fast enough? Tough enough? You won't have the answers until the first game," Bush said of the next stage of his football career.

Earlier this week, one of Bush's teammates, running back Lendale White, was the first of what is expected to be several USC underclassmen from the offensive side of the ball to enter the draft. Tackle Winston Justice is expected to declare any day while guard Fred Matua is also seriously considering the jump.

Another offensive lineman contemplating making the move to the next level is Texas tackle Justin Blalock. Sources have told us Blalock is telling people he will enter the draft if he's "guaranteed to be a first-round selection."

Roy Philpott of the Clemson site alerted us that even though Gaines Adams told CUTigers.com that he has not reached a decision regarding the upcoming draft, indications are the pass rusher is more likely to go pro than return for his senior campaign.

CUTigers.com is reporting that Adams has not been attending classes and he also has not gone through scheduled team workouts. Someone closely involved with the situation said, "I'd be very shocked if he came back next year."

In Miami, head coach Larry Coker announced both Ryan Moore and Baraka Atkins will be returning to the Hurricanes for their senior seasons.

"Both players are excited about the opportunity to come back for the chance to compete at a high level and improve as individual football players," Coker said.

Moore, who indicated as early as October that he was ready to leave for the NFL, had a change of heart after the Hurricanes purged several coaches, as we reported on Monday.

At the Las Vegas All-American Classic, several reports from practice this week have pointed to good performances by a few of the offensive lineman.

Indiana's Isaac Sowells has looked solid at left tackle, surprising as most project him to the strong side in the NFL.

Syracuse's Quinn Ojinnaka has also stood out all week, showing terrific athleticism and footwork. Small-schooler Jahri Ebbons of Bloomsburg has flashed skill and dominance through the practices. One source on the scene questioned Ebbons' work ethic, stating he was taking plays off. Another scout said Ebbons reminded him of former Indiana-Pa. prospect Leander Jordan.

Kent Smith of Central Michigan has looked accurate, displaying his vaunted arm strength all week.

Finally, Antwan Marsh, a small school defensive back from Pikesville College, is looking as physically impressive as anyone that has taken the field. That said, those on hand state Marsh has been stiff and inconsistent most of the week.


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