Devin Bush Jr. jumped into the role of middle linebacker for Michigan’s defense last season. He was replacing Ben Gedeon, who became a fourth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings after leading the Wolverines with 106 tackles, including 15½ tackles for loss, in 2016. Gedeon looked the part of a middle linebacker; he’s 6-foot-2, 244 pounds.
Bush is the new style of middle linebacker. He’s not a tall (5-11) or as heavy (225) but he’s got speed. Man, does he have speed. That speed is usually pointed in the direction of the football and it has a purpose. Bush began the season with 7 tackles, 2½ for loss and 1½ sacks in the win against Florida at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. He ended up leading the Wolverines with 102 tackles, 9½ of them resulting in a loss, 5 sacks, 1 interception and 8 pass breakups. He was named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and third-team AP All-American.
Bush leads the return of a linebacker group that should be deeper and continue the trend towards speed that defensive coordinator Don Brown craves. It loses Mike McCray to graduation but linebacker is a position group Michigan has recruited hard the past couple of years. Now will be the time to see those players on the field.
We’ve talked about Bush and what he brings to the table. The Michigan defense is all about attacking the offense and Bush fits that agenda perfectly.
Fifth-year senior Noah Furbush started five games when the Wolverines began in a 3-4 alignment instead of their normal 4-3. He was part of the normal rotation at outside linebacker and finished with 30 tackles, 2½ for loss, 1 sack and he recovered a fumble for a touchdown against Florida to close out the scoring in Michigan’s 33-17 win.
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Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla., won the Class 8A state championship in 2015. Bush was part of that team coach by his father, Devin Sr., as was safety Josh Metellus. One other member of the Wolverines’ defense was also on that team: linebacker Devin Gil. He redshirted his freshman season but saw action last year on special teams and on defense. He’s the leading candidate to take over the weakside linebacker spot McCray played the last two seasons. Gil (6-2, 220) has spent that time learning the defense and now he’s ready to put that knowledge to the test.
The 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes included seven linebackers. Besides Bush and Gil, Josh Uche and Elysee Mbem-Bosse were signed in 2016, while Josh Ross, Jordan Anthony and Drew Singleton were freshmen last season. Uche, Mbem-Bosse and Ross played on special teams, while Anthony and Singleton redshirted last season.
This should be one of the more competitive position groups this spring, and a strength of the defense during the season.
Don’t be surprised to see Brown utilize a 3-4 scheme more often this season. There’s a lot of talent and a lot of speed at linebacker that can be more productive in that scheme. Whatever is the best way to attack the offense, Brown will use.
Note: Michigan signed one linebacker to the 2018 class, Cameron McGrone of Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis. He will join the team in June.