2018 Season Countdown: #10 Devin Bush, Jr.

2018 Season Countdown: #10 Devin Bush, Jr.


August 18, 2018

Devin Bush, Jr. (image via Toledo Blade)

Name: Devin Bush, Jr.
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 233 lbs.
High school: Pembroke Pines (FL) Flanagan
Position: Linebacker
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #10
Last year: I ranked Bush #9A and said he would be the starting middle linebacker with 90 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks (LINK). He made 102 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and 1 interception.
TTB Rating: 85

A lot was expected of Bush in 2017 after he had been the one main backup linebacker to sub in for Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray in 2016. Bush did not disappoint. Through the first four games of 2017, Bush made 33 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks. During that time Michigan rolled out a lot of 3-3 stack packages that flummoxed offenses who had not seen Michigan run that as a base defense, and Bush thrived running from sideline to sideline, especially when making 12 tackles against Air Force. After that opening third of the season, however, Bush’s production dropped off as Michigan went to more four-man fronts and opponents started game planning to neutralize Bush. Big Ten coaches named him First Team All-Big Ten and he won the Roger Zatkoff Award for the top linebacker on the team, even though senior Mike McCray II was on the team and the flashy Khaleke Hudson racked up a ton of tackles for loss playing Viper.

Michigan comes back with a very experienced defense in 2018, but nose tackle Maurice Hurst, Jr. has left for the NFL. Hurst helped keep offensive linemen off Bush, and it remains to be seen if his replacements can do that same. Even so, Bush has the speed, tenacity, and power to be a tackling machine. While the backup middle linebacker spot is undecided as of now, there are several highly rated recruits vying for time, including Drew Singleton, Josh Ross, and Cameron McGrone. It would be a big blow to the team if Bush were to miss time, but I’m confident that defensive coordinator Don Brown could come up with a scheme or “dude” to still make the defense elite without its stout middle linebacker. But if Bush stays healthy, he should be an all-conference guy once again who has to make a decision between life in Ann Arbor vs. life in the NFL.

Prediction: Starting middle linebacker; 95 tackles, 12 tackles for loss

6 comments

  1. Comments: 921
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Aug 18, 2018 at 11:56 PM

    Wow, I’d say behind Patterson bush is most important. Recruiting rankings aside, he’s our best returning player

    • Painter Smurf
      Comments: 253
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      Painter Smurf
      Aug 19, 2018 at 3:38 PM

      Tend to agree with this. Bush is probably the best player on the team. LB is not always the most crucial position, but Bown does a lot of scheming around Bush’s specific talents. Have never seen a 2nd year LB at UM play as well as Bush last year, and I think he has a chance to become UM’s best LB in a long, long time.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2605
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 19, 2018 at 6:26 PM

      We can lose Bush and still have a very good defense. If we lose one or two offensive players (even assuming Patterson stays healthy), we could struggle mightily again.

  2. JC
    Comments: 200
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    JC
    Aug 19, 2018 at 10:26 AM

    I imagine the top of this countdown was especially difficult. The defense will probably be the heart of this group’s success again. I don’t know if the OL will be strong enough for the offense to carry the team. That coupled with the gap between our offense and defense would make me think the top of this countdown would be more heavily weighted towards defensive players.

  3. Comments: 4
    Joined: 9/4/2015
    Blue4life
    Aug 19, 2018 at 3:38 PM

    I agree with your logic on this. Our offense will not be as good as our defense and a part of that is established depth. Thunder’s countdown has historically not delivered the ranking based on talent or NFL potential more based on which guy or guys can we most ill afford to lose. Due to our depth on offense aside from Gary or Hudson I presume 4 of the 5 will be offensive players. We could be unfortunate and have injuries to 3 or 4 defensive players and still be a top 10-20 defense. If that happens on the offensive side we are in trouble.

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 3760
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 20, 2018 at 10:10 AM

    Nice post. I think this is a fun one.

    My opinion is this:

    I put Bush at #4 on my list because he’s an elite player without a ready-made backup. Last year’s was supposedly a walk-on so anybody stepping in would be a converting from WLB* or a fresh face to Brown’s demanding defense.

    With Bush anchoring in the middle we feel pretty confident about sorting out the other spot. He’s a leader on the field and knows what’s happening. But if he’s out of the picture you’re in a position of replacing both LBs at once. I do like the potential of our other LBs but the fact remains that WIL is a relative weak-spot and unknown. I like those other guys fighting for one spot much better than filling 2 holes.

    Without Bush, I think teams would exploit these 2 new LBs similar to how they exploited our new safeties a year ago. Fresh faces make mistakes. In this defense, those mistakes at LB or Safety mean getting gashed. Especially good offenses. Yes, Don Brown would still field an excellent defense with this DL and DB loaded up. But they’d give up more big plays.

    IMO, Bush takes what might be something like a #9 defense and makes it more like a #2 defense. The difference is irrelevant against Rutgers. I think we could rack up TFLs against Minnesota or Northwestern without much dropoff. But against OSU, PSU, and Wisc you can bet there will be fewer mistakes with Bush on the field.

    For a team that is going to hang it’s hat on a defensive identity, while likely struggling at times to score, Bush’s presence is critical in those high leverage situations.

    Great player and difference-maker. A joy to watch.

    *A similar position, granted.

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