Michigan Football Preview 2017

2017 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 103 of 179

102 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2017 FOOTBALL PREVIEW A lot more than he wanted to, certainly. Two of the sophomore linebacker's three tackles in limited action went for sacks, continuing what had been outstanding play all spring from the 5-11, 232-pounder who showed signs of being a ball-hawking mis- sile last year on special teams. Among his big plays: a block on MSU linebacker Chris Frey during a Jabrill Pep- pers punt return that made every highlight reel and left some Spartans, including head coach Mark Dantonio, crying for targeting (the Big Ten office disagreed). Frey, to his credit, tipped his cap to the young Wolverine and said he had no prob- lem with the hit, other than the cobwebs it took him a few plays to shake out before returning. "It's football. It happens," Frey said. "Good for him. It's a big hit, but I'm still standing here. I'm perfectly fine." Other than a bruised ego, perhaps. But it was a lift in a game the Wolverines needed badly, having lost three straight to the Spar- tans, and the type of play Bush's teammates have come to expect from him given his "exceptional anticipation" skills. "He's just so explosive and so fast," Spei- ght said. "With his football savvy, he sees plays develop quickly and acts upon it. He's been doing really well all spring." He was all over the field in the spring game, manning two different positions. He spent last season backing up weakside (Will) linebacker and now fifth-year senior Mike McCray; this year he's playing both the Will and the middle linebacker (Mike) spots, ro- tating with McCray and fifth-year senior Michael Wroblewski. Bush spent most of the spring game at the Mike between McCray and sophomore viper (outside linebacker) Khaleke Hudson, providing one of the fastest linebacker crews Michigan has ever seen. He got home in a flash on blitzes, often before Speight even saw him coming. "It's so nice when you have a young guy like him, and he can play two spots," Brown said. "You could ask some guys to do that, and they'd look at you like, 'Are you kidding me?' But he handled it with ease." Bush dropped four pounds before spring ball in preparation, he said, and is in the best shape of his life. "Just look at him," Brown said. "He walked by me and he didn't have a shirt on — I go, 'I remember last year. You were a short, pudgy guy.' Now he's chiseled. He's got a Division I body now." Fine Tuning A Freshman He's also got the pedigree and acumen to excel at one of football's most important po- sitions, having learned from one of the best. His father, Devin Sr., was a starting safety for national champion Florida State in 1993, eventually became the Atlanta Falcons' first- round pick and a Super Bowl winner with St. Louis during his seven-year NFL career. He was also his son's high school coach, leading Pembroke Pines (Fla.) Flanagan High to a 2015 state championship with Michigan second-year players Devin Gil and Josh Metellus. Bush Sr. is also a defensive analyst for the Wolverines, always nearby when his son needs someone to lean on. "Growing up with my dad has helped me a lot in my understanding of the game and just seeing little things," Bush Jr. 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 football. After recording 12 tackles in 13 games last fall, playing on special teams and as a backup linebacker, the 5-11, 232-pound Bush is slat- ed to start at middle linebacker in his sopho- more season. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL PACKING A PUNCH While Short In Stature, Linebacker Devin Bush Jr. Is Big On Talent "He seems to love contact — it's like he's looking for violence. He has speed, a knack for big hits and isn't afraid to take them. I love watching guys like him play." FORMER ALL-BIG TEN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN DOUG SKENE ON BUSH BY CHRIS BALAS H ad quarterback Wilton Speight not been off limits, and had he been playing on a grass field in the spring game April 15, he might have emerged looking like a Michigan State Spartan. His uniform would have been green from the number of sacks and hits he would have taken — as it was, the Michigan de- fense hounded him into a 9-of-26 passing, two-interception showing in which he never got comfortable. Coordinator Don Brown held back a bit, but not entirely, and his troops came at Speight from all angles. The ends brought a rush, the middle of the line, too, and the linebackers were relentless … one in particular. "We saw a lot," Speight said, "of Devin Bush."

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