Over the past three years, quarterback A.J. Bush hasn’t had much of a chance to get settled. Now, Bush might finally have the chance to do so.
Originally from Norcross (Ga.), Bush signed with Nebraska in the 2014 class. He redshirted his first season, didn’t play the next and midway during fall camp in August, announced he would transfer. Bush spent the 2016 season as a sophomore at Iowa Western Community College.
And yesterday, Bush announced via social media that he will now transfer to Virginia Tech. He’ll be tasked with helping to fill the void by Jérod Evans, who announced last week he he’ll forego his senior season for the NFL Draft. Bush has two seasons of eligibility remaining.
“What really caught me was the head coach and the OC, Coach Justin Fuente and Coach Cornelsen,” Bush said. “They were just very up-front, very honest about the situation and the opportunity at hand. Plus, Virginia Tech’s a great school. One of my favorite quarterbacks is Mike Vick. I’m from Atlanta, so I used to grow up watching Vick. Knowing he came from Virginia Tech, it’s great to follow in footsteps like that.”
Fuente and Cornelsen both made their pitches to Bush. But it was what they didn’t promise that might have had the biggest effect.
“They just told me there’s opportunities there,” Bush said. “First of all, you can’t really guarantee anybody a spot, no matter what situation it is. They just told me to come because there’s great opportunities there. Obviously, I saw what happened with Jérod. Coming in and competing for that spot would be great for me. The way they were coming at me was, ‘We want you, we feel like you fit perfectly with us.’ They talked to my previous coaches and they said great things about me and my character. That was big for me and I just felt comfortable right away.”
At 6’4” and 225 pounds, Bush said he believes he’ll be a good piece for the Hokies’ offense. Like Vick, he’s also a southpaw.
“I kinda looked at it a little bit and I saw bits and pieces over the season with Jérod and I think it fits me well,” Bush said. “I use my legs just as much as I use my arms. They also said they like to play towards the quarterback’s skillset. I can run and all that, but at the end of the day, my strength is my arm. I think balancing those things out would be great.”
Bush will arrive at Virginia Tech next weekend, to enroll in the spring semester and participate in spring practice. It’ll be an ongoing process, but he said he realizes it will be a task to be ready to compete.
“I’ve just gotta do the same thing I’ve been doing, just working hard, staying consistent,” Bush said. “At the end of the day, I do have catching up to do. But I’m a smart guy. I got the highest grades in all the playbook tests at Nebraska. Catching on, that’ll be nothing for me. It’s just getting to know it like the back of my hand, so I won’t have to think, just play.”
The journey has been a long one over the past three years. But Bush said he’s happy for the end result.
“What a lot of people don’t know is when I went to Iowa Western, I literally left two days before their first scrimmage,” he said. “And I played in the scrimmage, so the turnaround was so quick. It was like, ‘Dang, I put in all this work to learn the Nebraska playbook and it’s crazy how you have to forget about it just like that.’ That’s one thing I knew, but I did good with it. I enjoyed it and I don’t look back. Right now, it’s looking like it’ll end up the right way.”
Bush said he’s reflected even more on the journey, during the past two weeks he spent at the Dennis Gile passing academy.
“It taught me a lot, like how to be flexible, very lenient and JUCO really makes you realize if you really want it or not. Nothing is given to you, you’re not on scholarship check anymore and life outside of school is harder. It just made me grow up even more. The transition was quick and everything hit hard really fast. But it made me a better person and a better player. I know the things I need to work on and I know the things I need to fine-tune, so I’m good.”
Bush said he realizes Virginia Tech’s starting job won’t be handed to him. He’s ready for the competition with the other quarterbacks the Hokies have, like Josh Jackson and freshman Hendon Hooker.
“At the end of the day, we all wanna play,” Bush said. “We all have to compete to be the best. That’s what we play the game for.”