Ford City senior still mulling college choices

| Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ryan Shepard punishing opposing players on defense and Derek Bush scorching defenders on offense -- it sounds like a fantasy Armstrong County football team.

And it might happen.

Ford City senior Derek Bush hasn't decided where he's going to play college football yet, but when he narrowed his choices to three schools, St. Francis University made the cut.

Shepard, a four-year starter for Kittanning, signed a letter of intent to play for the Red Flash in February. St. Francis is a Division I-AA university.

"We've always said we wanted to play together," Shepard said. "But I told him, 'Don't just go there because I'm there. Go with what you want to do.'"

Bush has been on the fence about his future since Ford City's football season ended in November.

"I wanted to decide by the end of last month, but I keep putting it off because I don't know what to do," Bush said.

Bush's other options are just as tempting. Case Western Reserve University is interested in the Ford City senior. Bush applied to the school's nursing program, which is one of the best in the country, and was accepted.

And then there's Juniata College, which isn't far from Penn State, where Bush's sister attends school.

"It would be nice to be near her," Bush said.

Bush (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) was the Leader Times Offensive Player of the Year. He rushed for 1,413 yards and scored 31 touchdowns this season.

Bush averaged 117.8 yards rushing and 16 points per game. Of his 31 TDs, 28 came via rushing, two were on receptions and one was on a kick return against rival Kittanning.

"I think it would be great to play with him," Shepard said. "I've known him all my life. He's one of my best friends, and he's a heck of a football player. And, he could really help out, too."

Bush admitted that playing with Shepard "would be sweet."

Making a decision has been difficult for Bush. His initial plan was to attend either Penn State, Pitt or West Virginia and try to walk-on. But, he decided to go to a school where he would receive more playing time.

Trying to walk-on is the route Bush's Ford City teammate -- Josh Hospodar -- has decided to take. Hospodar, who was the Leader Times Defensive Player of the Year, plans on attending West Virginia.

The only difference is Hospodar said he will try to walk-on the West Virginia baseball team. Down the stretch of Ford City's football season, every opposing coach pointed to Hospodar as a major obstacle when facing the Sabers' defense.

But Hospodar said he only received "small offers, nothing really big" in regards to football.

Bush said he has until the end of the month to make a decision. Hospodar and Bush each said they have felt pressure to make a decision as to where they're going to school.

"I'll walk into Sheetz," Bush said, "and people I don't even know will ask me."

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