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Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown lauds defensive players, ecstatic early in spring football. Recorded Tuesday, March 27.
Nick Baumgardner, Detroit Free Press

Devin Bush Jr. almost missed his team’s first two spring practices.

Last week, the junior linebacker dealt with what he called a “little family issue.”

That left Bush with a decision to make: go home to be with his family or stay in Ann Arbor.

A conversation with his father, Devin Bush Sr., a defensive analyst with the team the past two seasons, was enlightening.

More from U-M spring football:

Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich have big goals for 2018

Five takeaways from Michigan’s first spring practice

Bush Sr. didn’t pressure his son either way. He simply provided some advice.

“He just said, ‘Hey, look, you’re a man, and you’ve got to make decisions like this,’ ” Bush saod. “ ‘So make a decision and follow your heart.’ ”

In the end, following his heart meant staying in Ann Arbor.

“I feel like I’m needed here, my guys need me,” Bush said. “And I need to be there for them, and for the younger guys as well because they’re going to need my help throughout this whole year. So I just felt like it was a big decision for me to stay here and I feel like I made the right decision.”

Bush left an impression on defensive coordinator Don Brown, who retold the anecdote with vigor Tuesday following Michigan — and Bush’s — third practice of the spring.

“Let me just say this, okay? Devin Bush Jr., special guy. That’s all I’m going to say,” Brown said Tuesday night. “There’s a private story, but this guy stayed with his team and he could’ve easily checked out for three or four days, and everybody would’ve understood. And he didn’t. I think we’re talking about a guy whose character is completely off the charts.”

“… Either way, it was fine with me. But I mean, he’s just a different kind of guy. So, it impresses me. And sometimes, everybody’s got an opinion on certain things when it comes to wins and losses. But this is a guy that gives you everything he’s got. Gives it to his teammates, and I think above and beyond (of him).”

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Bush’s decision to stay in Ann Arbor could be seen as an example of a player continuing to develop as a leader in putting the team before himself. That’s a process that has taken place over the past year. Brown — and coach Jim Harbaugh — see Bush as an authority figure on the team. So does defensive end Rashan Gary.

When asked about how he has seen Bush, his roommate in the dorms, become more of a leader, Gary had a simple answer. He feels Bush has been one from the moment he stepped foot on campus.

“He’s always that type of guy that you always want to be around because he’s going to push you to be the best that you can be,” Gary said. “He knows the expectations that need to be achieved, and he’s making sure everybody’s doing their job to achieve them.

“He’s on everybody hard, so having someone like that behind me, playing with, I’m happy that he’s my brother and that we’re here.”

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After a standout sophomore season that saw him earn All-American honors, Bush will presumably man the middle of the defense again, though he’ll do so next to a new face after the graduation of Mike McCray. Bush believes Devin Gil, Josh Ross and Drew Singleton have all made strides at the position.

“They’re playing fast out there but at the same time learning the playbook,” Bush said. “I think all three of them have a great opportunity to hold that spot down and become the starter, become the backup. I think those three guys have taken a big step and they’re going to take a bigger step as spring ball goes on.”

That spot is one of two positions without a starter returning, which may leave Bush in an easier position as one of the leaders of the defense. It’s not so much about learning anymore as it is about building off 2017.

“Everybody’s familiar with the playbook, so we’re just starting off where we left off last year,” Bush said. “We’re just trying to improve on things, and just (making) adjustments and making sure we’re efficient.”

More: Jim Harbaugh says Michigan is ‘rejuvenated’ heading into spring

From Patterson to Gary: Analyzing Michigan’s 2018 roster by position group

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A look at the Wolverines’ 2018 regular-season schedule, which opens at Notre Dame on Sept. 1, and finishes at Ohio State on Nov. 24. Video by Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press
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