Vols Beating the Odds For Bush

Tennessee's recruitment of Louisville Male superstar Michael Bush proves persistence pays in the procurement of pigskin prodigies just as it does in every other football pursuit.

At various times over the last nine months, the Vols chances of landing the prospect listed as the nation's No. 1 athlete have fluctuated from slim to nonexistent. But telling Phillip Fulmer he doesn't have a chance of signing a blue chipper is like waving a red flag in front of bull.

The surprising payoff came when Bush recently announced the Vols had made his final four and are rated in a dead heat with the rest of the field.

"I like Louisville, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio State," said Bush. "I have no leader among those four. I recently visited Ohio State and liked it a lot. I will make my decision after the season."

The 6-4, 225-pound, Bush is an athlete for all seasons and a player for all positions. As a junior he was the voted first team at five different positions on Kentucky's All-State team. This year he's the odds-on favorite to capture the Bluegrass State's two most coveted athletic honors Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball.

Last year Bush played cornerback, linebacker and safety on defense and wide receiver, quarterback and running back on offense. He caught 64 passes for 1,090 yards and scored 22 TDs.

In the 2000 Class 4A State Championship game, Bush caught two passes including a 31-yard touchdown, snatched two interceptions and made two solo tackles, including one for an 11-yard loss.

In the 2001 state title tilt, Bush was forced to fill in for Male's starting quarterback who went down with a broken leg. Playing quarterback for the first time in his young football career, Bush responded with the performance of a lifetime.

¯We asked Michael to play quarterback for the first time in his life,˜ said Male head coach Bob Redman, ¯and he not only started at quarterback, and played well, he also completed 19-of-36 passes for 346-yards and one touchdown. We had our junior varsity out there playing with Michael and we really held our own, but we eventually lost to Louisville Trinity by a 45-19 score."

This year Bush has played mostly at quarterback, but has made some clutch catches when Male needed a big play. On defense, he has been a standout at both safety and linebacker.

Bush prefers playing quarterback in college which works very well for Tennessee since the Vols are looking to sign a pair of prospects at that position, and are always on the lookout for athletes capable of playing more than one spot. If Bush only played wide receiver, or safety, or linebacker he might be No. 1 nationally at any of those positions. As it is, heˆs the Class of 2003ˆs top-rated athlete and its most compelling talent.

¯He's probably among the top two or three football prospects in the country,˜ said Redman. ¯If he chooses football as a career, one day this kid is going to make money playing the game. If he chooses football, I think right now heˆs a prototypical NFL 6-3, 6-4, 225, 4.4 type guy who can throw, run, do it all.˜

As a first-rate small forward, big guard prospect, Bush could sign with virtually any program nationally if he chooses to pursue basketball. He's talked of playing both sports in college and all of the current contenders for his services have agreed to allow him that option. However most analyst believe Bush's professional future is in football.

¯I think he is an outstanding basketball player in high school, but I'm not sure about down the road,˜ Redman said. ¯He may be a 'tweener. However he is an excellent basketball player. You remember Darrell Griffith? This guy reminds me of Darrell Griffith if he had played football. Griffith played basketball here at Male and if he had played football he would have been Michael Bush

Bush has proven to be an excellent albeit inexperienced prospect at quarterback. He has marvelous mobility and is a perpetual running threat with a very lively arm. He' learning to read defenses and is developing the visual grasp of the field that a quarterback must have to excel.

Because most of Male's games have been blowouts this season, Bush's passing numbers are solid though not sensational. However he has completed 62 percent of his passes for over 1,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. In a 62-0 victory over Atherton High School, he threw TD passes of 3, 12, 8, 3, and 6 yards. In another early season contest, he connected on 15-of-19 passes for 235 yards and four touchdowns.

Bush has the frame and is physical enough to developed into an outside linebacker or even a rush defensive end in college as well as a wideout, quarterback or safety. In many respects, he would remind Vol fans of Kelley Washington except for the attitude.

"¯He's real thick with a lot of natural strength,˜ said Redman. "He's a real good cover guy and extremely physical. He's got a real strong arm. He would win the punt, pass and kick contest if we held it down there in Knoxville.

¯Heˆs as fine a young man as he is a player. He's not a rah rah get-in-your-face guy, but he's a good solid leader for us. He's a rare dude, a rare breed.˜

To appreciate just how rare Bush is, consider that he made an unofficial visit to Knoxville for the rain soaked Tennessee-Florida game and he still plans to come back.

If that didnˆt scare him off, Bush just might be the guy needed to get the Vols back on top.
Son of A Pro
Tennessee which currently has two sons of former NFL players in Michael Munoz and Gerald Riggs Jr. are in the hunt for another former pro progeny.

Gary Anderson Jr., the son of former Arkansas and San Diego Charger star running back Gary Anderson, lists the Vols among his four finalists.

The 5-11, 165-pound, prospect owns 4.5 speed and plays several different positions for Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock, Ark. He is rated the nationˆs No. 34 cornerback prospect and is also an outstanding return specialist.

His father is currently head coach of the Arkansas Twisters Arena League football team which plays its games in Little Rock.

"I like Arkansas, Rice, Tennessee and Notre Dame," said Anderson. "Arkansas and Rice have offered. I will make my decision after my visits."


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