2016 Recruiting: Devin Bush Jr Comment Count

Brian May 10th, 2016 at 3:34 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse.

Hollywood, FL – 5'11", 226


Scout 3*, NR overall
#14 ILB
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 IIIundersized 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.



May 10th, 2016 at 3:38 PM ^

Just a note - David Reese signed with Florida, not Texas. Love the writeups though, anything to get me through the offseason.

Mr Miggle

May 10th, 2016 at 6:07 PM ^

He might turn out out to be a very good player, but I don't think he was a good fit. He flipped from Louisville to play FB. As he got more interest from other schools, he asked for the opportunity to play LB. Then he said he was only willing to play LB. Then he insisted on being an EE. I think he was gone long before he officially decommitted.


May 10th, 2016 at 3:54 PM ^

For a non-Michigan YMRMFSPA, Bush sounds like he may play similar to Denicos Allen at MSU. Of course Allen played SLB in that system IIRC but the descriptions sound similar nonetheless.


May 10th, 2016 at 4:00 PM ^

Freshman James Ross isn't bad at all. And I do think Ross was hurt by some weird coaching decisions, since he sure seemed more capable than some of the other options, especially in coverage.


May 10th, 2016 at 10:17 PM ^

All indications were that James Ross would've been a beast (in a system that employs his skill set) and all indications are that Devin Bush Jr will be one as well.  Both are natural linebackers with speed, strength, aggression, instincts, tackling and big hit capacability in a sleeker, harder to block, athletic package.  That is a prototype that Don Brown's defense uses to great effect and has also found recent NFL usage as pro defenses have adjusted to defending spread concepts and formations in recent years. We should be excited for this guy. I expect in the next couple of years, we'll see something we're not used to seeing much recently: big plays out of the linebacker position. 


May 10th, 2016 at 4:03 PM ^

Bush's body type does not indicated... fast, athletic football player.  He is kinda ordinary looking...but there is nothing soft about his game at all.   Very good football instincts too.


May 10th, 2016 at 4:18 PM ^

Bush may be YMRMFSPA James Ross as a recruit, but I have a feeling he will ultimately end up being YMRMFSPA David Harris as a player. I realize he's not at quite the same position but he really looks like he can fly to the football like Harris did.


May 10th, 2016 at 11:08 PM ^

I'm not sure that he'll grow much, height-wise. He's probably about what he'll be. If he's 5'11" or 6'0", his ceiling is probably 6'1". That's still not very big, especially if he doesn't quite make it to that point. Ross was listed at 6'0" as a recruit and he measured in at 5'11" at Michigan's pro day. It's pretty rare that these guys hit huge growth spurts after high school, aside from packing on muscle or getting fatter.

I Want To Believe

May 11th, 2016 at 4:16 AM ^

One of the most overrated attributes of a linebackers game is height. Some of the greatest linebackers of all time were 6'0" and under. Guys like Derrick Brooks, Mike Singletary, Chris Spielman and others come to mind when I think about "undersized" linebackers. I think Devin Bush Jr has a chance to play on Sunday's when his time at Michigan is over.

Also, while not common, many athletes still grow taller after age 18.


May 11th, 2016 at 8:28 AM ^

I agree in the sense that height can be overrated, but it's still noteworthy because a) it can affect overall size/weight and b) it can be a hindrance in coverage. There were times that Ross got swallowed up by bigger players, and there are times (for example, when Bush was beaten by Tyrone Wheatley) that another couple inches in height/arm length can be the difference between a completion and an incompletion.


May 11th, 2016 at 11:17 AM ^

Exceptions don't prove the rule, both of them were excellent football players with great instincts, but they still had some limitations due to their size and to a certain extent had to be protected by the scheme.  I think Bush will do very well here, as he seems like a good football player and a great fit for Don Brown's scheme, but there is a limit to his size and that will limit some things about his game.  He could still be great or he could end up like Ross, excellent situationally, but hard to rely on as an every down guy.

I Want To Believe

May 11th, 2016 at 4:08 AM ^

Dude reminds me a little of David Harris or Ian Gold. I think Bush has the chance to be very good in Brown's system. I am very worried about the LB core after 2016. Really hope to see Harbaugh land a couple of big time LB's in the 2017 class.


May 11th, 2016 at 6:39 AM ^

Thank you for a more thorough evaluation of Devin Bush as a recuit.  My only caveat (and I may be a lone wolf on this), but I could have done with fewer quotes from recruiting services, especially because we have seen him on the field a little.  Recruiting services have an almost impossible job, and they added little: Boiled down:  Bush is relatively small for a LB at the highest level.  Bush is aggressive and seems to show good instincts.   Those that emphasize the former see a 3 star.  Those who see and emphasize the latter rate 4 star.  None of them had Harbaugh's and his staff's opportunity and time to evaluate Bush.  


May 11th, 2016 at 12:21 PM ^

So when you get quotes from Harbaugh and his staff as to why they liked Bush, you'll have better data. In the absence of that, these writeups look at all possible bits of information from available sources and tries to put together a theme, then Brian gives his color. Some analysts are very good, others are not, there will be misses. This is obvious. But it's something that provides an idea what type of player is coming in, I think something valuable, and its accuracy can be judged over time.

It's much preferred to "Devin Bush Wolverine because staff liked him."


May 11th, 2016 at 8:39 AM ^

and the fact that he's an EE makes him more valuable, esp. considering that ILB is probably the weakest spot on your D going into the 2016 season.  He's got great read/react instincts, which is the most important thing in an ILB.  IMO his (smaller) size is in no way a con based on the recent trend of smaller, faster, more athletic ILBs (like Telvin Smith, etc.) having success in the NFL.  

Now, re the following:

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.

FSU didn't put on the full-court press (and ended up signing a better ILB in 2016).  And one of the main reasons that FSU didn't put on the full-court press with DBJ is that, unlike FSU, Michigan was willing to sign 2 or DBJ's high school (Flanagan) teammates to get DBJ (who as it turns out are 2 of the 3 lowest ranked recruits in Michigan's 2016 class). 

Ali G Bomaye

May 11th, 2016 at 9:00 AM ^

Metellus and Gil committed to Michigan in mid-June 2015.  At the time they committed, Bush had taken one unofficial visit to Michigan, and had taken visits to places like FSU (twice), Notre Dame, and Texas. If you're arguing that Michigan took commitments from two other Flanagan guys just to help their chances with a guy who was looking at a number of top schools, that's pretty speculative.


May 11th, 2016 at 9:12 AM ^

Taking DBJ's 2 Falanagn teammates helped with DJB.  Here's what DBJ said about committing to Michigan and joining his 2 high school teammates:

"That's going to play a huge role for me, having my high school buddies," Bush said. "Getting able to play another four years with them, I think that's an opportunity you had to still, I took advantage of it." (sic)


FSU simply was not willing to take those 2 guys.


May 11th, 2016 at 9:52 AM ^

You seem to be implying that FSU wouldn't stoop that low, but we all know FSU goes to...umm...great lengths to preserve its football program. Additionally, FSU took Gabe Nabers (the #2056 player in the country) and Andrew Boselli (#729), not to mention a couple lowly rated kickers, when the two guys you're talking about were significantly higher rated (Metellus was #743, Gil #1006).

I agree that recruiting teammates helps. But your implication seems to be missing its mark when you say FSU "wouldn't be willing to take" Gil and Metellus. You're right, I guess - they're willing to take worse players than Gil and Metellus.


May 11th, 2016 at 12:42 PM ^

If in his attempts to recruit players he runs across talented people and decides they can bring something to the program, then why not?  It's called networking and can be quite effective as long as it doesn't turn into nepotism U.  So far as I have seen everyone who has been recruited into the program has a reason for being there beyond who they are related to/associated with, so it doesn't seem like that's a worry.



May 11th, 2016 at 12:58 PM ^

Troubling Trend However
Minick, Lyon's mom, Jay Harbaugh, Partridge, Wheatley, Bush, spots on the Team for all the Wanglers/Dunaways. The list goes on. Hard to argue positive/negative impact of these choices. But it is clear that Harbaugh defaults more often to networking than searching the best candidate by interviewing candidates. I worry more about a culture of preferential treatment of those brought onboard via networking rather than a full job search. Also, how strong is Bush Sr. committed to Michigan if his son gets injured, benched or transfers?

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


May 11th, 2016 at 1:12 PM ^

A lot of these things are irrelevant. How strong is Bush committed if his son gets injured, benched, or transfers? I supposed as strong as anyone who gets hired to do a job. Because if he doesn't do his job, then he's going to get fired and won't get a good reference for his next job.

A spot on the team for the Dunaways? One kid is a walk-on (so he doesn't take a "spot"), and the other got a scholarship offer. Wayne Lyons wasn't shown much preferential treatment when he basically just played a little bit of special teams all year.

It's not troubling at all. Because nothing bad has come of any of it. 


May 11th, 2016 at 1:36 PM ^

Enjoy TTB, Thanks Magnus
Walk-ons are players too, don't forget 2 Wanglers to go with the Dunaway. Didn't the TE get an offer after one career catch? You can't say things could not have been better either. Can you imagine the Engineering school having similar hiring practices? Nope! If Harbaugh hires these people after a search, fine. But, I have a problem with positions being given to friends, relatives, recruit coaches, etc. without an open search. It is quite evident Harbaugh feels differently, and if he wins all will be good. If he does not, his hiring practices could be second guessed.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


May 11th, 2016 at 2:46 PM ^

Questioned by about 1% of the fan population.  If he loses it will be for a dozen different reasons before this.  No one's going to care that the Wanglers walked on to Michigan. 

BTW Michigan as a school has or used to have an admissions bump for alumni parents (along with probably just about every college).  How is it managing to survive the blatant favoritism that this policy engenders?  So yes, I can imagine the school having similar practices, because it does have similar practices.  They're both on a limited basis and at the judgment of the coach or school.  


May 12th, 2016 at 10:48 AM ^

I have no problem with walk-ons being players who are the sons/brothers of players. Part of being on a team is understanding the tradition, respecting the program, etc. Jack Wangler isn't hurting anyone by being a walk-on, and neither is Jack Dunaway.

We'll see in a few years whether Carter Dunaway is a solid prospect or not. I tend to trust Harbaugh when it comes to tight ends. He's a 3-star prospect, the #54 TE, and has offers from Indiana and Nebraska (among others). Sean McKeon - who was not the result of nepotism - was a 3-star and the #45 TE in the 2016 class. That's not that far off.


May 11th, 2016 at 4:19 PM ^

Why is it troubling? Name one area of professional or social life where "networking" or otherwise familiar relationships don't come into play. I don't understand the consistent attempt to frame this as something that is "bad". I got my current job because a friend made me aware of it and introduced me to the hiring manager which led to my getting an invite to interview. I nailed the interviews and got the job. Does that make me or my friend bad people?


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