April 15, 2017
By Steve Kornacki
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Devin Bush wears No. 10, and so it was possible that he actually was a member of the Michigan football team's offensive backfield. It sure seemed that way.
Bush, a sophomore linebacker, spent so much time flushing out quarterbacks and tailbacks in Saturday afternoon's (April 15) spring game that Wolverine quarterback Wilton Speight completely understood that reference.
"We saw a lot of Devin Bush," Speight said.
Speight said that Saturday's play was typical of the way Bush has performed during Michigan's spring practices, which will conclude with three additional practices during the team's tour of Italy at the end of April.
"He's just so explosive and so fast," said Speight. "With his football savvy, he sees plays develop quickly and acts upon it. So, he's been doing really well all spring."
When asked if exceptional anticipation makes the difference for Bush, Speight nodded and said, "One hundred percent."
Bush led all defenders with two credited sacks among three tackles and had numerous quarterback hurries. Quarterbacks weren't allowed to be hit on passing attempts in the scrimmage, and so statistics weren't always crystal clear at times.
Rising sophomore quarterback Brandon Peters, who is two classes behind starter Speight, completed nine of 17 passes for 160 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for a 12-yard touchdown to lead the Maize to a 31-29 victory secured by Kyle Seychel's 31-yard field goal on the game's final play.
Speight completed nine of 26 passes for 78 yards and had two interceptions with no touchdowns for the Blue team, which got a booming, 48-yard field goal from highly recruited rising sophomore Quinn Nordin.
Defense stole the show in this one with viper Jordan Glasgow returning an interception against Speight for a 100-yard touchdown and cornerback Brandon Watson adding a pick-six against Peters with a 32-yard return.
There was plenty to enjoy for the crowd of 57,148 at Michigan Stadium, and many arrived early for the lacrosse game between Michigan and Ohio State that preceded kickoff.
Bush, a 5-foot-11, 232-pound dynamo with long dreadlocks, caught everyone's attention.
"He's a really good player," said Wolverine defensive coordinator Don Brown. "We're excited to see him, and he's live and in color, that's for sure."
Bush brings an energy and vibe to the field that teammates feed off.
"I think I bring that aggressiveness, speed and passion for the game," said Bush.
Still, fans weren't able to see perhaps the best part of Bush's game -- the kind of quarterback walloping that solicits "ooohs" and "aaahs." Zapping passers was against the rules in this contest between teammates.
"Sometimes you've just got to know when to turn it off and turn it on," said Bush, smiling and shrugging his shoulders.
Bush brings substance as well as flash, though.
"He's a mature guy, and football's important to him," said Brown. "He's from a football family. It's so nice when you have a nice guy and he can play in two spots (different linebacker positions). You ask some guys to do that, and they look at you like, 'Are you kidding me?' But he handled that really, really well."
Bush played behind starting linebackers Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray as a freshman while excelling on special teams. Now he has an opportunity to replace Gedeon, who is awaiting the NFL Draft, while still being able to spell McCray.
"I played Will (weak-side) all of last year," said Bush. "Learning Mike (middle) was a different experience for me, and it actually made the game slow down for me a lot because knowing two spots, where everybody is, where to line up and what checks to make; playing two positions was a positive for me."
McCray is the only starter returning from the nation's top-rated total defense (261.8 yards per game) that finished second in scoring defense (14.1 points per game). However, there is plenty of experienced depth along the defensive line -- where sophomore end Rashan Gary is expected to have a breakout season -- and the talent from consecutive highly recruited classes is waiting in the wings.
"I feel like this year we are going to have a big impact on the season," Bush said of the defense. "We're just like puzzle pieces, we click together, play together, talk and communicate and make sure we're all on the same page."
Brown opted to split first-team reps between the veteran first-stringers and upcoming second-stringers in preparation for the Orange Bowl game with Florida State, and that decision has paid dividends for the 2017 Wolverines.
Bush said: "That helped a lot -- playing against our line last year and having those safeties communicate with me and having Mike and Gedeon communicate really helped me out a lot. Mike is hard on me, too, and wants me to make the play that no one thinks I can make."
Brown added: "I think Mike McCray was a really good role model (for Bush)."
Bush added that he's also "trimmed body fat" by adhering to the plan of Wolverines director of performance Fergus Connolly.
"I eat clean and stay away from fried foods, carbs and bread," said Bush. "I eat salad and grilled chicken."
He's leaner and just as mean.
What does he see as the personality of this new defensive unit?
"This defense is fast, aggressive and loves to compete," said Bush. "We love to win and hate to lose. We give it all we've got."
Bush played for his father, Devin Bush Sr., in leading Pembroke Pines (Florida) Flanagan High to a 2015 state championship along with current Wolverine teammates Josh Metellus and Devin Gil. His father won a national championship as an All-America safety at Florida State, was a first-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons and won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams. He's now a defensive analyst for the Wolverines.
"Growing up with my dad has helped me a lot in my understanding of the game and just seeing little things," he said. "I feel like I've been around this game since the time I was born, and it's helped me a lot in having that passion for the game.
"Once you become familiar with the game, everything just comes so easy."
He was asked about the success he had getting to quarterbacks in Saturday's scrimmage.
"It was just our stunts and the D-line moving, me moving and our timing and communication," said Bush. "It all clicked."
Bush was in the middle of it all, "live and in color."