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2006 Rose Bowl: The Talents That Did Not Translate to the NFL

By: James A.Brown

James A. Brown
LMS Network Contributor

The 2006 Rose Bowl National Championship game was possibly the best championship game of the 2000-2009 decade for college football. The game saw the undefeated USC Trojans take on the undefeated Texas Longhorns. Each sided boasted star players on both sides of the ball, great coaches, and a story of a team trying to repeat as champions, and a team led by a quarterback with a big chip on his shoulder.  When dust settled and the confetti started to fall it was Texas in the end who would emerged victorious stunning the Trojans 41 to 38.

With so much talent on these two rosters the future seemed bright for many of these young men to go on have long successful careers in the NFL. These young men showed so much promise and yet none of would taste the same level of success at the next level.

The two teams combined to send 49 total players from the game to the NFL. Of the 49 players USC had nine players drafted on the 2006 NFL draft, three in the 2007, seven in the 2008, and six in the 2009. Meanwhile Texas saw six players drafted in 2006, seven in 2007, four in 2008, and three in 2009. Of these players drafted were Heisman trophy winners Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush of USC, Rose MVPs Vince Young and Michael Huff, and so many more talented players.

Vince Young became a Texas legend in the game against #1 USC for The 2006 National Championship! Photo from

These players were looked at by many college experts as shoe ins to make to the NFL and replicate what they did in college and more. For whatever reason for so many of these young budding stars their NFL dreams were short lived with little to no accolades. Matt Leinart played in 33 games as an NFL QB, his record as a starter was 8-10. His career numbers weren’t much better throwing for 4,065 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and throwing 21 interceptions. A Heisman trophy winner, national championship quarterback, and done and out of the league in only 6 seasons. Vince Young fared better in his 6 seasons in the league at 60 games, 31-19 as a starter, 8,964 yards and 46 touchdowns to 51 interceptions. Reggie Bush was seen as a phenomenal running back in college, the ability to score from anywhere on the field whether it be a run or catch, make multiple people miss, and blazing speed. Sadly, those attributes only flashed in the NFL. Bush rushed for over 1,000 yards only twice in his ten-year career, his best being 1,086 yards as a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2011. While he did win a Super Bowl as a member of the New Orleans Saints, Bush is recently known for recording the least amount of yards rushed for in a 16 game season at -3 yards in 2016 as a member of the Buffalo Bills.

Other players from that National Championship game that you may or may not remember include, RB LenDale White, WR Steve Smith, WR Dwayne Jarrett, OT Sam Baker, OL Winston Justice, C Ryan Kalil, DE Frostee Rucker, DE Lawrence Jackson and LB Keith Rivers of USC. S Michael Huff, OL Justin Blalock, S Michael Griffin, CB Aaron Ross, and CB Tarell Brown of Texas.

This game and these athletes gave us so much excitement, memories, and things to talk about. Maybe that is the reason it seems these men never accomplished more. This game was probably the biggest game their lives, they gave us everything they had and more. Perhaps we heavily criticize what they accomplished afterwards because of what they showed us on that night January 4, 2006, when they played possibly the greatest championship game ever.