Flanagan coach Devin Bush often can’t contain his excitement on the sidelines.
And it’s harder when he’s watching his son make a big play.
“He’ll make some plays and I’ll say, ‘How did he see that? How did he do that?” Bush said. “He’s one of my favorite players to watch not just because he’s my son, but just because of the way he affects the game and he makes his teammates better.”
Devin Bush Jr. is a star linebacker entering his senior season at Flanagan.
He’s one of the top-rated players in the country, the top-rated linebacker in Broward County, and being recruited by more than 40 schools.
And his presence was sorely missed in last year’s Class 8A state semifinal loss to Miami Columbus that ended Flanagan’s best season in school history. Bush Jr.’s 2014 campaign was cut short when he broke his wrist right before the start of the playoffs.
Bush Jr. (5-11, 225) earned All-State first team honors as a junior after recording 67 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in 10 games played.
Nine months have passed and a healthy Bush Jr. is back and hoping to take Flanagan a couple of steps further to what would be the school’s first state championship. The Falcons opened the season ranked No. 25 nationally by USA Today and No. 2 in the state in Class 8A behind Apopka.
“It’s all about his teammates with him. From his demeanor and his character, I know he’s going to do the right thing. He’s going to make a good impression. As a coach and a father, I couldn’t ask for a better kid.”
Devin Bush Sr., Flanagan coach, on his son, Devin Jr.
Bush Jr. is the captain of one of the strongest defenses in the state — a unit that includes one of the most talented defensive backs in the nation with seniors Stanford Samuels, Devin Gil (Michigan commitment) and Faion Hicks.
Samuels opened the season doubling as the team’s starting quarterback in place of injured senior Kato Nelson.
The players in the secondary line up in practice against a group of receivers about as talented as they are. Jahcour Pearson, a Northern Illinois commitment, Dredrick Snelson, a Minnesota commitment, and junior Clevan Thomas lead the unit.
“We were so close to winning the state title,” Bush Jr. said. “I’m not taking anything for granted this year. We’re going to take this thing as far as we can.”
Bush Jr. wasn’t alive when his father returned an interception for a touchdown to beat the University of Miami during Florida State’s 1993 national championship season.
And he was only a toddler when his dad became a Super Bowl champion as a member of the St. Louis Rams following the 1999 season only a year after playing in the previous Super Bowl with the Atlanta Falcons.
“I remember when all the balloons and confetti dropped when his team won the Super Bowl, but I watched some of his games on film growing up,” Bush Jr. said.
The elder Bush, an accomplished athlete at Hialeah-Miami Lakes High, went on to have a stellar career at FSU and played in the NFL for eight seasons.
Bush, 42, has helped turn Flanagan into a state power since becoming the Falcons’ coach in 2013, and he has had the chance to watch his son’s growth into a football player who is on a path to possibly exceed his father’s accomplishments.
“He’s actually a more decorated player now than I was at that age,” the elder Bush said. “He might make All-State three times and he might even win a state championship. Those are things I wasn’t able to accomplish.”
Bush’s experience has helped give his son perspective both in his development as a player and as a senior getting ready to choose his college future.
“If I even do the smallest thing wrong, even when I make a play, he lets me know about it,” Bush Jr. said. “He’s definitely tough on me, but it’s helped me a lot.”
Bush Sr. calls his son his best friend.
And nothing would feel sweeter for the two than ending their time as a father-son, coach-player duo with a state championship trophy in their hands.
“From him being a little baby wanting to play football to now, I’m so proud of the kind of unselfish player he’s become,” Bush Sr. said. “It’s all about his teammates with him. From his demeanor and his character, I know he’s going to do the right thing. He’s going to make a good impression. As a coach and a father, I couldn’t ask for a better kid.”