Reggie Bush left the competition far, far behind — as usual.
Southern California’s incomparable junior tailback won the Heisman Trophy in a landslide as college football’s best player Saturday night over Texas quarterback Vince Young and USC quarterback Matt Leinart, last year’s winner.
Flashing uncanny acceleration and ability to change direction, Bush has conjured up memories of Gale Sayers, drawn comparisons to Marshall Faulk, Barry Sanders and Tony Dorsett, and is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL draft.
“Oh man, this is amazing,” Bush said, a row of former winners lining the stage behind him. “It’s truly an honor to be elected to this fraternity. I’ve been in college for three years and it’s the first time I’ve been invited into a fraternity.”
Bush received 2,541 points to finish 933 points ahead of Young, with Leinart a distant third.
The 784 first-place votes received by Bush was the second-most in Heisman history, topped only by USC’s O.J. Simpson, who had 855 in 1968. Bush was first in all six regions and appeared on 99 percent of the ballots, also a Heisman record.
Bush and Leinart will be the first Heisman winners to play in a college game together when USC goes for a third straight national title against Texas in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4.
When Bush’s name was announced, he bent over in his chair, and clasped his hands. When he reached the podium, he let out a big sigh. He must have been the only one in doubt about the outcome.
This year’s Heisman race appeared tight for much of the season, with Bush making a big statement in mid-October against Notre Dame. He ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns in South Bend, and provided the final push Leinart needed to score the winning TD in the closing seconds of a classic 34-31 victory.