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Albany's Bush Gets Good News
UAlbany receiver granted another year with Danes.
ALBANY — A cruel joke had a thrilling outcome for University at Albany senior wide receiver Tim Bush.
UAlbany assistant coach Eric Evans somberly told Bush on Feb. 10 the NCAA had denied his appeal for a fifth year of eligibility, which meant his career was over.
“I was pretty much shocked and sat there for about five minutes, probably wanting to tear his head off,” recalled Bush, who’s from Saratoga Springs. “I was very angry.”
Then Evans broke a smile. He was only kidding.
In fact, the NCAA had given Bush back the year he lost when he broke his left ankle in his sophomore season at Hudson Valley Community College.
“After that, it was a lot of strain off my shoulders,” Bush said. “Everything was happy.”
Bush has rejoined the football program and is participating in spring practice, which continues today with a live scrimmage that’s open to the public on University Field at 2:15 p.m.
The Great Danes will run about 100 plays, although established players such as Bush and star tailback David McCarty will participate in only a few to give younger players a chance.
“I love being out there,” Bush said. “No matter how much I hate it, no matter how horrible the weather is, every single time we come out on that practice field, I love playing football.”
The return of the 5-foot-9 Bush heightens UAlbany’s chances of winning a third consecutive Northeast Conference championship. He caught 67 passes last season, a program record, and is 53 shy of breaking Dan Gmelin’s career mark of 136.
It also gives quarterback Vinny Esposito the security of having his favorite target back.
“We thought we were going to have to develop a bunch of young kids,” offensive coordinator Ryan McCarthy said. “We’ve got some talented young receivers, but Timmy gives us a finished product. That’s the guy Esposito is looking for when he’s in trouble. He’s a pretty nice safety valve to have.”
Bush approached Evans, his position coach, about petitioning for an extra year with about two weeks left last season. The UAlbany coaching staff wasn’t optimistic but began the process of putting together paperwork, including medical records and statistics from his time at Hudson Valley.
That’s when Bush and Hudson Valley coach Oji Fagan, a former UAlbany player, realized Bush had mistakenly been credited with playing in four games before breaking his tibia during the 2006 season.
Actually, Bush had played in only two games out of 10 that season. Players are eligible for an NCAA medical hardship waiver if they’ve participated in no more than 20 percent of a team’s games in a season.
“It was a sense of hope of me getting my year back,” Bush said.
Armed with this new information, Bush first got approval from the National Junior College Athletic Association. Then he went through the Northeast Conference to get final clearance from the NCAA.
Bush, a history major, wasn’t allowed to work out with the team while he waited for the outcome because he was considered a graduated senior. He lifted weights on his own and hoped it wasn’t for naught.
Then came the news from Evans, who decided “I’m going to mess around with him a little bit.”
So after initially telling Bush he’d been turned down, Evans gave him the good news.
“He gave me a big hug and was just real fired up,” Evans said. “He’s a guy that does everything a coach would want. If you ask him to run through a brick wall, he’ll do it for you.”
Bush gets good news
By Mark Singelais, The Albany Times-Union (NY)