Michigan survived a late push from Florida State to land one of their top overall targets in the class, four-star Hollywood (FL) Flanagan ILB Devin Bush Jr., who announced his commitment to the Wolverines in a ceremony this afternoon. Bush, the son of former FSU and NFL safety and current Flanagan head coach Devin Bush, joins teammates Devin Gil and Josh Metellus in the 2016 class, which now sits at 22 commits.
Bush is the second linebacker in the class, along with three-star Dytarious Johnson, and as an early enrollee he'll have every opportunity to make an instant impact at Michigan's thinnest position group.
|3*, #13 ILB||
4*, #5 ILB,
4*, 82, #12 OLB,
3*, 88, #19 ILB,
4*, #11 ILB,
As you can see, there's a major split in Bush's rankings; Rivals and ESPN have him as solid four-star while Scout and 247 place him in high three-star territory. Bush's size—listed at 5'11", ~225 pounds everywhere but Scout (6'0", 215)—is the likely cause of the difference in opinion; those listings are apparently a little generous on length, as Bush measured in at 5'9", 227 at The Opening.
[Hit THE JUMP for the informative stuff.]
Scout's free evaluation doesn't sound like that of a three-star prospect:
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.
- Hitting Ability
Areas to Improve
- Pass Coverage Skills
While Scout notes pass coverage as an area for improvement, Bush stood out in that regard on the camp circuit last summer, especially at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, where he earned #3 defensive performer status after a pair of picks in 7-on-7 action:
Bush, who came up with two interceptions, is a very smart linebacker that is much faster in the open field than the tight ends and running backs originally thought. One interception was in the flat near the sideline and one was downfield when covering a wheel route. Bush knows when to bump the running backs and tight ends, and knows when to jump so he can knock down the pass.
ESPN has high praise for his run defense, athleticism, and instincts, and they also like his play on passing downs ($):
We like the blitzing facet of his game on passing downs and ability to pressure and get after quarterbacks. Would like to see him time his jump more consistently but he will close fast and aggressively on evading quarterbacks and can be disruptive. Quick to get to his zone drop in coverage and will blanket his underneath area with strong plant and drive burst.
Bush is an explosive linebacker prospect who would be higher up our board with a bit more length. We feel he has better short-range burst and overall tools that project best inside than out at the college level and with that projection he will need to continue adding size and strength before making an impact as an every-down linebacker.
Bush is a lock to play inside linebacker at Michigan, which will play to his strengths.
Rivals' Rob Cassidy caught Bush in live game action last month and came away without much worry about his size ($):
Flanagan linebacker Devin Bush 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.
The scouting reports are quite consistent: Bush is an athletic, instinctive run-stuffer who plays with aggression and can hold up in coverage; he is also short. While that latter bit has caused concern among a couple of the recruiting sites, it certainly hasn't prevented top programs from taking a hard run at him, as evidenced by...
Bush holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Colorado, Florida State, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisville, LSU, Miami (YTM), Mississippi State, NC State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among several others.
Flanagan, which now has seven FBS commits in this class alone, captured their first football state title this year after winning Florida's 8A classification. Michigan has already offered two Flanagan prospects in the 2017 class, four-star CB Stanford Samuels and three-star WR Clevan Thomas.
A couple sites have incomplete stats but I couldn't dig up anything definitive. Rivals says he had 113 tackles, three picks, and two sacks as a sophomore; 247 lists consecutive 67-tackle seasons for his last two years but that seems low—also, Bush's senior season just wrapped up last week.
FAKE 40 TIME
Bush's SPARQ-verified combine numbers from The Opening:
LB Devin Bush Jr., 5-9, 227, 4.65 40-yard dash, 4.68 shuttle, 40-foot PB throw, 30.8-inch vert 97.02 SPARQ
He's got some wheels for a linebacker.
Mid-season junior highlights:
Freshman highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The competition is wide open at inside linebacker for 2016; assuming Ben Gedeon locks down a spot, Bush should be right in the mix to play next to him. His competition will be Noah Furbush, Mike McCray (if healthy), Jared Wanger, and perhaps a fellow freshman if Michigan brings another ILB on board—it'd be a surprise if Dytarious Johnson competed for time right away. Bush getting on campus early will be a big help, since he'll need to add some muscle before he's viable at the Big Ten level.
Whether or not Bush locks down a starting job, he should be part of the linebacker rotation as a freshman, and when Gedeon departs after next season it'd be very surprising if he didn't step into a starting role.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Bush fills the most glaring hole in the class as an inside linebacker capable of competing for time right away. Michigan is now at 22 commits in a class that will reach 27; the expectation is we'll see status changes with perhaps a couple more current commits as the coaches try to fit the top remaining targets into those spots. One may drop tomorrow when top-ranked running back Kareem Walker chooses between Michigan and FSU.
Other top targets include DT Rashan Gary, TE Isaac Nauta, CB David Long, CB LaVert Hill, OT Jean Delance, OG Terrance Davis, WR Donnie Corley, WR Dylan Crawford, ATH Jordan Fuller, WDE Levi Onwuzirike, ILB Dontavious Jackson, and ILB Jonathan Jones. Tight ends Jacob Mathis and Chase Allen are both distinct possibilities to end up in the class should Nauta, as expected, land with Georgia.
Here's the class as it currently stands: