The first time Devin Bush Sr. set foot inside the Big House he did so in 1991 as a freshman safety for the #1 ranked Florida State Seminoles. Michigan was ranked #3 prior to the contest, buoyed by the big play tandem of quarterback Elvis Grbac and eventual Heisman Trophy winning wideout Desmond Howard. Bush’s team prevailed 51-31 that day (an accomplishment that still hypes him up 24 years later), but he was nonetheless impressed by the magnitude of Michigan’s football tradition.
So when he made his way back inside the Wolverines’ storied stadium during his son’s latest unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, the elder Bush made sure to take a moment to take it all in.
“It was a different atmosphere for me,” Mr. Bush said laughingly. “Before it was hostile. Now it’s different. It was more friendly and welcoming. You felt like family walking in there (this time).”
The Wolverines were far less hospitable to the visiting Northwestern Wildcats. Michigan's blowout victory over the #12 team in the country offered the Devin Bush Jr. his first live glimpse of Michigan football, and he came away extremely impressed. Just as impactful, though, was yet another opportunity to spend time with the Wolverine coaching staff. Three visits to Ann Arbor and one visit by Jim Harbaugh & company to South Florida for a satellite camp have led to both parties becoming extremely comfortable with one another.
“I think they’re real people,” Mr. Bush stated. “Every time we come to visit it has been the same. Harbaugh seems like a real player’s coach. I don’t understand what they were trying to say in San Francisco, but this guy really seems like a player’s coach. If you’re going to play for him and do your job, he is going to be for you. If you’re screwing up he is going to give you that treatment, but he has been to college and played in the pros and now he is coach. He genuinely seems like a player’s coach that can understand the things and relate to the things that you want and the things that you may have been going through because he played. He has been there, done that. And a lot the guys on the staff have that same background as well.”
When not chatting with the coaches the Bushes were getting better acquainted the academic support and athletic counseling staffs.
“I met a lot of those people,” said Mr. Bush. “They came up and introduced themselves. They talked about the Michigan experience, we talked about the tradition… we talked about the things that go on there, how things work there, the dynamics between the athletic department and the academic support. All of that is top notch.”
All told, the Maize & Blue definitely strengthened its case in the race for the younger Bush’s services.
“Michigan is who they are,” Mr. Bush said. “Michigan has a storied tradition… a big time program that is going to be able to recruit nationally. That’s just who they are. When you see it (in person), it’s really real.”
Seeing Michigan’s top ranked defense in person left an indelible too.
“On any level it is hard to get three shutouts in a row,” said Mr. Bush. “They’re pretty impressive.”
Not quite impressive enough, however, to compel his talented offspring to add his name to the Wolverines’ commitment ledger. That said, Michigan did meet a few of his most important decision criteria.
Said Mr. Bush, “Devin wants to play for a program that is going to win games (and) play in big meaningful games. And he wants to play for a school that has a good defensive coordinator where they play really good aggressive defense.”
Time will tell whether Michigan fits that bill better than his other suitors. The Sunshine State star visited Auburn last month and another trip to his dad’s alma mater is a virtual certainty. At the moment, though, the dates and destinations for any remaining trips are up in the air. All that is known for sure currently is a decision will come before the New Year.
“He is trying to work out (his visit plans) right now,” said Mr. Bush. “Before he was just concentrating on the season and trying to win a state title. Now he is going to try to look at setting up the official visits because he wants to be a mid-year (graduate) as well. So with us playing in the playoffs he is trying to figure out how he is going to set up these visits. He is getting ready to start to work on that now.”
And when Bush Jr. comes to a decision?
“He is going to have a press conference,” replied Mr. Bush. “He wanted to do it at (the Under Armour All American game on January 2nd) and then he changed his mind. I think he wants his teammates and the people that have been there (for him) to be there for (the announcement) instead of doing it at that game. He wants to share it with them.”