Road to NFL leads to KC for Cal’s Bush

September 2, 2013

Stephanie Kush is probably one of the happiest women around right now. That’s because she won’t have to drive back and forth from Pittsburgh to Kansas City any more with a toddler.

Kush’s husband, Eric, assured that over the weekend when he earned a spot on the active roster of the Kansas City Chiefs, where he’ll be the team’s backup center behind starter Rodney Hudson.

Eric Kush, a Chartiers Valley High School graduate and California University product, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Chiefs – making him the highest-drafted player in Vulcans history – but that hardly guarantees a player a spot on a 53-man roster.

“It’s a tough transition from college to the NFL. There’s so many more details that you have to look at while you’re playing,” Kush said last week after the Chiefs played a preseason game against the Steelers. “But it’s gone well.”

So well, that he and his wife can put down some roots in Kansas City with their son, John Henry.

Stephanie Kush had been staying with family while her husband focused on earning a spot on Kansas City’s roster. She made the drive to Kansas City for the Chiefs’ first home preseason game Aug. 16, then drove back to Pittsburgh for the game against the Steelers Aug. 24.

Immediately after that game, she was hopping back in the car to drive back to Kansas City. Her grandmother was going along to help out with John Henry, who turns 2 later this month.

“She’s got an extra pair of hands to help her out,” Eric Kush said.

Kush is now one of two California players currently on an active NFL roster, joining Tennessee cornerback Tommie Campbell. Safety Rontez Miles is on the practice squad of the New York Jets. Offensive lineman Rishaw Johnson and cornerback Terrance Johnson were waived by Seattle and Atlanta, respectively, over the weekend.

Campbell, a starter at cornerback for the Titans, will return to the area Sunday when Tennessee opens its season at Heinz Field against the Steelers.

Kush, who grew up a fan of the Steelers, already experienced that thrill. And he wasn’t even the only player from Chartiers Valley on the field for that Chiefs-Steelers exhibition game. CV graduate Ross Ventrone was a safety in training camp with the Steelers but he was released Saturday.

Bush and Ventrone had time to talk after the game, a 26-20 overtime victory by Kansas City.

“I hadn’t seen Ventrone since my freshman year of high school wrestling. My freshman year in high school, I was 150 pounds,” said Bush, who now is 6-4, 313. “He was like 110. I was tall and skinny. It was good seeing him. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m not as small as I was 10 years ago.’

“It was awesome to see two CV guys back at Heinz Field. I didn’t expect to be playing in the NFL, let alone against my hometown team. That was a (good) experience to come back to Heinz Field and play in that stadium.”

Kush has adjusted well to life in the NFL.

“I’m working hard and improving every day,” Kush said. “It’s great because I don’t have to focus on passing a class or anything like that.

“I’m just playing center, which is letting me focus on just one position.”

Dale Lolley has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1993 after previously working at WJAC-TV and the Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown, and The Derrick in Oil City. A native of Fryburg, Pa., he is a graduate of North Clarion High School and the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, where he earned a degree in journalism. He has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers since joining the Observer-Reporter in 1993, and also serves as the outdoors editor. He also is a radio host for Pittsburgh’s ESPN 970-AM, and serves as administrative adviser for the Red & Black, Washington & Jefferson College’s student newspaper.

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