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King George’s Bushrod selected to play in Pro Bowl

BY ZAC BOYER

Jermon Bushrod didn’t know how to react when he saw Sean Payton’s name and number appear on his cellphone yesterday afternoon. The New Orleans left tackle was just as speechless afterward.

Payton, the Saints head coach, was calling Bushrod with unexpected news: The King George native was selected to represent the team and play for the NFC in the Pro Bowl, the NFL’s annual all-star game, on Jan. 29 in Honolulu.

“It was definitely awesome when we got the news,” Bushrod said last night, shortly after the rosters for the game were announced. “I wasn’t expecting it. That’s why it hasn’t really sunk in yet.”

Bushrod will join four Saints teammates—quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham and offensive linemen Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks—on the 43-man roster for the game, which will be held Jan. 29 in Honolulu.

It’s the latest accomplishment for Bushrod, 27, a 2002 graduate of King George High School who is in his fifth season in the NFL. He was selected by New Orleans out of Towson in the fourth round of the 2007 draft, became a full-time starter in 2009 and won the Super Bowl with the Saints at the end of that season.

“For my hometown, for King George, I think it’s just awesome,” Bushrod said. “And coming out of Towson University, it means more for them than for [me].

“Would I have thought about this when I was coming out of high school? I did not. I’m just really blessed and humbled by the whole experience. Not many guys get the opportunity to play in the NFL and then in the Super Bowl, and then to get selected to play in the Pro Bowl is just incredible.”

At halftime of last night’s King George boys basketball game, the crowd cheered when it was announced that Bushrod had been selected to the Pro Bowl.

Foxes football coach Jeff Smith, who was an assistant coach at King George when Bushrod played there, smiled from ear to ear when he heard the news.

“With him winning the Super Bowl and now going to the Pro Bowl, he’s put King George on the map,” Smith said. “One of the things I love about Jermon is that he still comes home, comes to the school and signs autographs and such. He never forgot where he came from.”

The five teammates were recognized in the vote of players, coaches and fans for leading the league’s most powerful offense. The Saints are averaging 457.1 yards per game this season behind Brees, who set the record for the most passing yards in a season Monday night when he threw for 307 yards in a home victory over Atlanta. His 5,087 yards with one game left to play top the mark Dan Marino set in 1984.

The Saints offensive line has allowed only 24 sacks this season and permitted defenders to hit the quarterback 51 times, both of which rank as the fewest in the NFC. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Bushrod has allowed only three sacks on his own this season.

With the victory Monday, a 45–16 romp over the Falcons, the Saints clinched the NFC South division title and their third consecutive playoff appearance.

Bushrod insisted he hasn’t yet begun to think much about the Pro Bowl, given the Saints have one more game —Carolina on Sunday—before the postseason begins.

But he also laughed when thinking about the fact that if everything goes well, he won’t be playing in the Pro Bowl. Because it takes place the week before the Super Bowl, anyone playing for the league championship is not permitted to participate in the all-star celebration.

“That would be awesome,” Bushrod said. “If I didn’t get to play in it, that’s because something better has come along—the Super Bowl. It’s always team-first. That’s why we do what we do. But it’s been a tremendous honor.”

Free Lance–Star sports writer Adam Himmelsbach contributed to this report.

Zac Boyer: 540/735-1974

zboyer@freelancestar.com

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