|Hollywood, FL – 5'11", 226|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||4*, #182 overall
#7 LB, #26 FL
|ESPN||4*, #181 overall
#12 LB, #33 FL
|24/7||3*, #478 overall
#19 LB, #62 FL
|Other Suitors||FSU, Auburn, UF, LSU, UGA, Bama, ND|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. He also featured in our spring summary.|
|Notes||Early enrollee. Teammate of Devin Gil and Josh Metellus. Father is FSU legacy, first round pick, NFL star, and Michigan analyst Devin Bush Sr. Twitter.|
Mid-season junior film:
I couldn't find anything from his senior year.
Devin Bush Jr. was already in the bag when Michigan hired Don Brown, but he still represents a new era in Michigan recruiting. I am pretty sure he is the first legacy kid from the South Michigan has ever managed to crowbar away from his destiny. His father is a Florida State legend, and the Seminoles put on a full-court press late in his recruitment. That was to no avail. Bush followed through on the most obvious silent commit Michigan's had in a long time. His dad joined a few months later, but those two events are likely unrelated—the job Bush the Elder got was not open, or anywhere near it, when Bush the Younger told the coaches he was coming over the summer of 2015. Bush is a kid that only Harbaugh gets.
And make no mistake, Harbaugh wanted Bush badly. By all appearances he was one of the top names on Michigan's linebacker board, coveted to the point that Michigan was willing to let David Reese—who eventually signed with Texas—walk despite an obvious need at LB. I still think that was a dubious move, but it spoke to Michigan's confidence both in their ability to acquire Bush and their belief in his ability.
That ability, meanwhile: if you ever thought to yourself "I wonder what Don Brown would have done with James Ross," Bush will answer that question for you. I was having a tip-of-the-tongue moment when it came to figuring out who Bush's YMRMFSPA should be; Touch The Banner gets the assist:
Bush is a very physical player, despite his size. In some ways, he is a lot like Michigan senior James Ross III – undersized but packing a wallop. Bush uses his hands very well to disengage from blockers, and he has the leverage to shed linemen and lead blockers. When he gets to the ball carrier, he comes full speed and runs through the tackle. … He takes good angles to runners, plays downhill, and is tough to shake in space because of his short-area quickness and agility.
ESPN's evaluation of Bush does not directly mention Ross but could be a scouting report for him:
Modest frame but really well-built and explosive. … very good short-area burst but also possesses the speed to make plays to the sideline. … Beats blockers to the point. Quick to read, react and get on the downhill attack. Takes sharp, direct angles to the ball and stays square to line of scrimmage. Gets over trash cleanly while maintaining proper leverage on ball carrier. Will need to develop more stack and shed power if he remains inside. … Will uncoil on contact and is an explosive tackler who can force the ball loose or drive RB's back with a temp changing collision. Will come in too hot at times and overrun.
Ross was marginalized for much of his career because he wasn't big enough to take on OL blocks and opportunities to operate as an all-purpose Nittany Lion obliterator came only once a year. The emergence of Jabrill Peppers as a prototypical hybrid space player was the final nail in the coffin.
Bush walks into a much friendlier situation: the linebacker depth chart is wide open as soon as next year. Don Brown has made a lot of smallish linebackers into stars over the years. Bush is also almost as thick as Ross was as a senior already. A number of scouting reports mention the height and then immediately qualify that concern. ESPN does above and Son of a Coach thinks similarly:
Bush looks like he may actually be under 6 feet, but is solidly built with room to add more weight. He is a good athlete with solid lateral movement skills. He’s a thumper that is just as happy to take on blocks violently as he is to avoid them in pursuit.
If he can add a reasonable amount of muscle his height will be more of an asset than a drawback—at least against the run—since he'll be under the opposition's pads. Coverage might be an issue against Jake Butt types.
There is a split in Bush's rankings. Why is surprisingly unspecified despite Bush showing out at both the Opening and the UA game. It's possible a lack of tape is an issue: there's nothing on Hudl after the midpoint of his junior year. Scout is a skeptic but they don't have much to tell you why other than his recruiting profile, which lists the ever-popular "size" as an area for improvement and otherwise says excellent Don Brown things about him:
Plays fast to the ball. Very instinctive player who plays one step faster than many opponents. Has very good game speed. Great inside the box going downhill. Works some on the edge as a blitzer as well and he is very effective. When he hits, there is pop with it. A lot of opponents go backwards. Best in attack mode. Can move sideline to sideline. Plays with aggression and an ideal in the box. Not elite size or length, but big enough.
The only other item about Bush, the player, is a brief item from Bill Greene after the UA game in which he says 1) he's short, 2) he will "come forward and hit ballcarriers in the hole", and 3) he didn't see him in coverage. 247, the other three-star ranking, also seems a bit hung up on first-guy-off-the-bus-ness:
"When you're at a T-shirt camp and everyone's out there trying to be track stars, he may not be your first pick," 247sports' director of scouting Barton Simmons says. "But as soon as the pads come on, and the lights turn on for a Friday night or Saturday afternoon, I think that's where he shines.
"I think he's really one of the top in-game linebackers in the southeast. He's a kid who's best when the pads are on."
That's the only opinion I found about Bush from a guy with his hand in the rankings. Clint Brewster did offer up thoughts similar to the ones already in this post ("instinctive," "excellent tackler"), but IIRC he is not involved with their rankings. Brewster does disagree with many when he says Bush "isn't the quickest or most sudden," so if that's a widely held opinion at 247 there you go with the ranking.
On the positive side of things, ESPN and Rivals offer four-star rankings, albeit with caveats: UA game players seem to get bumps from ESPN and Rivals Camp guys seem to get bumps from Rivals. Bush did both, and did well at the Rivals camps, getting an invite to their Five Star Challenge:
Bush is an elite inside linebacker with great instincts and an excellent sense of timing. He did very well in one-on-ones, coming up with multiple interceptions and pass break-ups. Bush showed impressive range in space and he was able to alter many throws over the middle.
Bush looked great with lateral speed, but he struggled at times with his footwork when running backs ran wheel routes out of the backfield. He is thick, quick, and should be a big-time linebacker at next level.
Rivals did have an actual scouting report from an actual game, which is a rare thing for some reason:
…lacks elite height but continues to show why that isn't much of a concern. Bush swarmed around the ball on Friday and made a number of plays to help hold a high-powered St. Thomas offense in check for most of the night. Bush is sound fundamentally and plays with little regard for his own body. His closing speed is what makes him a high-level prospect, but he's not half bad in coverage, either.
As an early enrollee, Bush comes with another pile of data. He was noted mostly for being the gentleman victimized by Ty Wheatley Jr at Ford Field, albeit on a play where his coverage was good enough to grab an arm and force the one-handed spear Wheatley made. When that wasn't happening to him, Bush started delivering on his scouting reports. Brown was "very happy" with his progress. Sam Webb noted that he was Michigan's "biggest hitter" in the first padded practice down in Florida. At Ford Field, Sam elaborated on his spring:
He clearly caught his coach’s eye. Very quickly he has earned a reputation for being fierce in the box against the run. He is also good in pursuit showed hi motor and tenacity when running back Joe Hewlett bounced a third-and-long play outside for what looked to be a sure first down. Bush turned on the speed and chased him down from the backside.
I ended up focusing more on Mike McCray than Bush, who "didn't leap out at me" at either Ford Field or the Spring Game. One thing we got a little clarity on: Brown said he was a WLB. That's not much of a surprise since an undersized guy who can fly to the ball generally ends up at a spot a little bit more likely to leave him as a free hitter.
Etc.: Also an important source of dreads.
Why James Ross? Undersized, instinctive hitter. Ross was just outside the top 100 as a recruit, had a really promising freshman year except for a few instances against Iowa where he showed up in the right place only to get blown out of the hole, and then began a frustrating period of not really having a position and struggling to get on the field despite deficiencies at various ILB slots.
This is one potential future for Bush if he can't hold up to blocking and gets stuck on the same team with a guy who is amazing in practice and not so hot in games. Another potential future is for Bush to be James Ross, PSU edition.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. There's a surprising dearth of discussion about Bush for a high profile guy. He went to the Opening, he went to UA, he played on a state champ in Florida, and actual scouting from the ranking sites is very scanty. Weird. Also there's a big split.
Variance: Moderate-minus. Excellent bloodlines and pedigree, projects to same position in college, size is a concern.
Ceiling: High-minus. Explosive, heady linebacker who can thwack you is a nice upside.
General Excitement Level: High-minus. I'm not too worried about the size since he's pretty heavy already and should hit 230-240 without issue. I am enthusiastic about the way Michigan pursued him—they think he's the man—and the fit with Don Brown. I expect him to be a multi-year starter.
Projection: Will play. Was a reasonably good bet to start before Mike McCray emerged; now he will probably have a role similar to Gedeon's over the past couple years where he gets a few series per game.
Going forward he is likely to start as a true sophomore. Noah Furbush is playing SAM. Jared Wangler is not an inside linebacker. Mbem-Bosse is not a WLB. Josh Uche's going to take some more time. Devin Gil is transitioning from safety. Bush has the drop on the other freshmen by virtue of enrolling early. That is every non-freshman scholarship LB on the roster for 2017 save McCray.
Bush is the linebacker version of Tyree Kinnel: a mid four-star recruit who Michigan really needs to pan out because of holes left by late Hoke recruiting.