LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Michael Bush is in no rush to decide whether to enter the 2007 NFL draft or return for another year at Louisville after breaking his right leg in the Cardinals' season-opening win over Kentucky.
"I just want to get my rehab done and see how strongly I rebound when the time comes," said Bush, who broke the leg in the third quarter of Louisville's 59-28 win over the Wildcats on Sept. 3.
Bush had a titanium rod inserted into the leg and two screws to hold it in place during surgery on Sept. 4. He currently is on crutches and says his recovery time could take between five and six months, meaning he could be fully recovered in time for April's draft.
"I should be 100 percent or even stronger," Bush said. "To me
I'm glad it's not a knee or an ACL or that I messed up my ankle. To
me it's just a broken leg. It happens all the time."
Bush, who set a school record with 23 rushing touchdowns last season, had opted to return to Louisville for his senior year,
hoping to lead the Cardinals to their first Big East championship
while upping his draft stock in the process. A senior, Bush also
has the option of accepting a redshirt or applying for a medical
redshirt, a move that would allow him to return to Louisville (4-0)
next fall. He has until mid-January to decide.
Bush played just one half but was off to a fast start. His first
carry of the season went for a 48-yard touchdown and he'd already
piled up 128 yards and three scores -- "Heisman Trophy-candidate"
numbers as he described it -- when his year came to an abrupt end on
Louisville's first possession of the third quarter.
Bush took a handoff from quarterback Brian Brohm on Louisville's second play of the half and ran to his left when he was tackled from behind by Kentucky linebacker Wesley Woodyard. Bush said he tried to get up following the tackle, and then looked down at his right leg only to see his foot pointing in the wrong direction.
"I remember hearing something snapping like a stick," he said.
"The trainers came over to me and were like 'What's wrong?' and I
said, 'Look at my leg."'
Woodyard called Bush to apologize, but Bush said he doesn't blame him for the injury, saying it was just part of the game. The call from Woodyard was among hundreds of messages of support Bush has received from well-wishers since the injury, a list that includes comedian Bill Cosby and former Louisville wide receiver Deion Branch.
Bush said he's only gotten upset once since the injury, tearing up a little bit while watching the Cardinals play Temple on Sept. 9.
"It's just part of the healing process," he said.
Instead of pouting, he's chosen to become a "cheerleader" and
spiritual leader for the eighth-ranked Cardinals. He spoke to his
teammates during halftime of the team's 31-7 win over Miami on
Sept. 16 and said he's been told by doctors that he may be able to
lead the Cardinals out onto the Papa John's Stadium turf when they
host No. 4 West Virginia on Nov. 2.
Bush and Brohm had been touted as the "Derby City Duo" before
the season, with a Web site devoted to their Heisman Trophy
campaign. Bush said he felt he was on the path to a special season
before the injury, a season that would have included a trip to New
York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony in December.
"I'd have been there," Bush said. "It would have been a close
Instead, he'll watch from the sidelines while the Cardinals try
to qualify for a Bowl Championship Series berth for the first time
in school history. And for the next month at least, he'll be joined
by Brohm, who is out after injuring his right (throwing) hand in
the win over Miami.
Yet despite the injuries to their two star players, the
Cardinals have continued to roll, a fact Bush attributed to coach
"As long as coach is here, we'll always be OK," Bush said.